Cables and purls | WIP {Knitting}

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Slable using my naturally dyed yarn 

The Hourglass baby blanket 

Linking up with others to Ginny's today

My September here and elsewhere

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

I have not done one of these reviews for a while - but I hope to make them more regularly. So here is what caught my eye, or has suddenly arrived in my house this month. 

- Thanks to Libby, I have finally understood the point of Podcast (I have never really been into them) - well at least one in particular, the weekly podcast by Tara Swiger #exploreyourenthusiasm. The last one is so inspirational. I usually listen to it whilst writing a boring report for work. It is free, and it is amazing, check it out. 

- I have always been interested in 60s/70s design, and we added to our little home collection this week - thanks to Ebay - with this Stig Lindberg fruit bowl that sits in the middle of our kitchen island. I never thought a fruit bowl could make me so happy. 

- I am not sure whether any of you submitted a tutorial to craftgawker - basically a site full of free tutoriasl. I found the process of submitting quite difficult if I am honest. You need your pictures to be perfect, think about the composition , light etc. It is of course a great way to test your photographic skills, but it can be really depressing when a project keeps being rejected, not because of the quality of the tutorial but because of the picture (it has happen a lot in the past to me) - check out this other blogger experience. Two of my projects made it through this month, whoohoo, the embroidered felt boxy pouch and the toddler beanie hat. One of the tutorials have been referred on another blog today - amazing stuff. 

- I love these geometric ceramics 

- Twelve free cool fonts, yes please. 

- This version of the Brigitte Tee has totally inspired me, I can probably alter it to make it into a pregnancy top, using this tutorial

- I found a new ethical fabric shop, the Offset Warehouse, and bought some fabric from them that has already made into a top, but more on this in October. Here is a sneak peek. 

- I have made a couple of minor changes to the editing of blog - so you can now pin easily all my pictures - I used this tutorial to make it happen - and made my pictures appear the same width but retain proportions - tutorial here.

- Finally I am starting my Le Challenge project, and I have 'lion' on my mind... 

Toddler Pompom Beanie Hat | A free pattern {Knitting}

Monday, 29 September 2014

The new beanie hat season has officially started, whoohoo! And Baby MiH is the first one to have a new hat - mine is being knitted at the moment. Not sure he feels lucky however, I have managed to take 3 pictures of him, but it has not been easy. I guess he does not feel that it is cold enough for a hat. But he looks so cute in it, so I keep trying to put it on. The inspiration for this pattern was this picture - just a bit less slouchier. 

It is a really quick knit - knitted with yarn from stash, and unfortunately this means that I don't have the exact names of the yarn, so the yarns I mention are probably the right ones but I cannot be 100% sure. 

Pattern: below
Knitting needles: 4.5 mm (circular and DPNs)
Yarns: for the body: Silver Grey Cascade 220 (3/4 of a skein)
and a merino tencel hand dyed lace yarn in Slate (from here)
for the pompom: I used Cascade Pure Alpaca Paints (1/4 skein)
Size: to fit a toddler (Baby MiH is a big 21 months-old, 
and it is easily going to last him until next year)

Here is the pattern I drafted (let me know if you spot any mistakes)
  • CO 90 stitches , I use the German cast on for hats
  • you start with ribbing on 10 rows  (Ktbl1, P1) 
  • knit in moss stitch for 45 rows 
  • decrease starts with (k2tog,k) row (60 stitches left)
  • purl row
  • decrease with a (k2tog) row (30 stitches left) - probably time to move to DPNs 
  • purl row
  • decrease with a (k2tog) row (15 stitches left)
  • purl row
  • decrease with a (k2tog,k1) row (10 stitches left)
  • purl row
  • decrease with a (k2tog) row (5 stitches left)
  • bind off in your usual way. 

Make a pompom to the size you want. 

I did not block it, but I guess you can do it, and you may actually achieve more slouch-iness, you could also have a bigger pompom (but I was really worried that Baby MiH would keep pulling at it - he is already quite taken by the pompom as it is). 

It is a really simple beanie hat, but as I love moss stitch, this is one of my favourite ones. As always let me know if you make one using the pattern, I would love to know! 

Matcha Shortbread | A recipe {Baking}

Friday, 26 September 2014

I feel like I have not baked for a long time. I am cooking every day for us, but not actually baking. For once, I decided to make treats for the adults (basically that are not animal shaped) - so for Mr MiH and I to enjoy when Baby MiH goes to bed. As I am starting to be grazing rather than eating, little treats were appropriate, and I have been trying matcha green tea powder for the last couple of weeks, and was wondering how I could incorporate it into my baking. 

I came across this picture and I knew I needed to make those shortbreads, 

I followed this recipe exactly but not the steps. 
Makes about 30 shortbread

  • 185g (6½oz / 1¼ cups) plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted
  • 125g (4½oz / 1¼ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into cubes, at room temperature
  • 60g (2oz / ¼ cup) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 7g (1 tsp) matcha (green tea powder), plus extra for dusting
  • 500g (1lb 2oz) dark (bittersweet) chocolate, to coat

Preheat the oven to 160C (325F / Gas 3). Put all the ingredients, except the tempered chocolate, into a bowl and mix until the ingredients come together in a dough.
Remove from the bowl. Leave to rest for at least 1 hour in the fridge. Roll the dough to 5mm (¼ inch) thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut into 4cm (1½ inch) squares and transfer to a baking tray (sheet) lined with a non-stick baking mat. 
Bake in the preheated oven for 20–25 minutes until lightly golden. Remove from the baking tray (sheet) and leave to cool. Coat with melted dark chocolate and dust with matcha powder.

So they do not look as good as on the picture, but they do not look bad - and still they certainly qualify as grown-up treats. To be honest the matcha powder does not add that much to the taste - but adds great colouring! I may make a version with an orange twang in it, I think it would work really well with the dark chocolate. 

They are really quick to make - except for the chocolate coating - and do not require any special ingredients, but would make really cute presents for Christmas... Here is a thought. 

As always let me know if you make this recipe, and what you thought, 

The need to nest | WIP {Knitting}

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Finding the right baby blanket pattern for Little Baby MiH. Of course I could not use the pattern I used for Baby MiH's one. I have to knit a new Shale for Baby MiH (another story for another day involving felting the original one), so a new pattern had to be found. And it was no easy. Not that there is a lack of patterns, free or not. But I am really picky. Like seriously. You would think that my life depended on it - when, well, it is not clearly , but in my hormonal state it is. 

I suppose it is because I need to nest, and the blanket is what will keep the baby warm, even at the hospital, and it is tangible unlike everything else at the moment. Whoah, I am sounding a bit weird. So let's talk knitting patterns. 

So here are my favourite baby blanket knitting patterns.. Of course Shale by Jared Flood.. It is inspired by vintage patterns - it is full of lace work but amazingly easy to remember (perfect for those baby brain moments). You have to pay for the pattern, but there is a (very) similar free version available on Ravelry. 

Another pattern I have recently come across - through a blog I think - is the Chalice Baby Blanket - a free pattern. A lace pattern (of course) knitting in 6mm, my sort of knitting. I think it would have been a serious contender if I had not started on Little Baby MiH blanket already. 

Found on Pinterest
I must also had a great moment of madness and considered at some point to adapt Ashby into a baby blanket - it had been done, but would have still required some arithmetic to make it work. And thankfully I realised that this was NOT the time to start messing with patterns. However the shawl may be a Christmas present, so stay tune, I do intend to knit this one!  

Ravelry picture

So, what did I decide to knit? Surprise, surprise it is a Brooklyn Tweed pattern by Anne Hanson called the Hourglass Throw. It does not necessarily come into searches because it is called a throw, when in fact there is a crib pattern included (it comes in 3 sizes). 

Chunky ribbing, lace, cable work, it is all in it. It is a bit more challenging than other baby blanket patterns of course, but I am already in love with it. I am knitting it in organic Merino and Alpaca blend yarn, naturally dyed found at Swans Islands Yarn. 

I am making good progress, although a really low point was realising I had the ribbing pattern wrong (my fault, not the pattern's) and had to frog it all and start again. But we are over this now, and ready to see the pattern emerge.  

What is your favourite baby blanket pattern? Am I the only one obsessing about choosing the right pattern for baby blankets?

Joining Ginny's yarn along today

Natural Dyeing | The Result

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

I think I am a convert to natural dyeing. I did not know what to expect when I started or during the process for that matter. But I am in love with the result. Look at the shades of yellow and brown throughout the yarn, it is subtle but will add a lot of interest. 

I am not going to lie, it was not the easiest process to wash away all the natural dyes stuff I used, and even though I tied the skein together it was not as easy to put it around my yarn winder (I should have tied it in more places) - but I only had to cut the yarn in one place, that's not bad going. But clearly a few things to think about for the next time, because there will be a next time

I am now knitting this - yes I have many WIPs already, but I could not resist, I just had to know what it looked like knitted! This is the beanie hat pattern I have chosen, expect a finish soon (or not as I am knitting in 3 mm, not my most favourite size). 

To see all the other WIPs, head to Ginny's yarn along

I got my kit from Spin City UK if you too are interested in trying it out. 

Maternity Wear #3 - the Carme Blouse | A finish {Dressmaking}

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Here is the dedicated post to the Carme blouse by Pauline Alice and the maternity wear modifications. I made a (very small) mock version of the modifications which I hope will help those who would like to adapt the pattern. I also made minor changes to the pattern. But let me start by saying that I would not have been able to complete the pattern without the sew-along - well I would, but it would have taken even more time than it already did. Also it is quite reassuring knowing that you are doing the right thing. I did not follow all the steps of the sew-along, just a couple (the maternity modification, the pin tucks and the sleeves vents).

The fabric is 'plumetis' (or swiss dot fabric, thanks Sonja for the translation) - a fine lightweight dress fabric of cotton that is woven with raised dots  on a plain background producing an embroidered effect. I tend to use lightweight fabric for maternity wear tops because there is so much bulk you can away with. I had mine in my stash - I found it at Ma Petite Mercerie (a French shop), I got the taupe colour, but there is a wide range of colour. 

I had 5 matching buttons in my stash - bought in a charity shop a bit of time ago - that I really wanted to use. I had to adjust the placket accordingly - 3 buttons for the placket and 2 to be able to roll up the sleeves. I also changed the collar - making it smaller so it is flush with the placket. I like Mao style collar but I thought the original collar sat a bit too high - I suppose my version is more casual. 

So here are the maternity wear modifications. The sew-along modifications suggest a gathering alterations (as I did with Tova) but I wanted to try another modifications - using a pleat. Although I like the finish, it is a bit tricky to match the end of the placket with the middle of the pleat. 

Here are a few pictures on how to make the pleat.

1. Mark the excess fabric (the sew along modification makes this easy) and the centre

2. Match the marks and pin

 3. Draw a line for about 5'

4. Baste (I am a great believer in basting but I know it adds steps). I only use one knot so it is easy to remove. 

5. Iron down the pleat in the middle

6. Match the centre of the top and bottom fabrics

7. Pin and sew according to pattern seam allowance

8. Et voila!  

It is quite a neat way to do it. I think it can really work for both maternity wear and just adding a feature to a top. I am hoping it means that I will also get some wear out of the Carme post-pregnancy. 

I love the sleeves details - it makes the shirt much a more professional finish compared to other tops I have made. 

As you can see it is totally wearable for any occasion, even on a bouncy castle with a toddler (I am not event looking too pregnant in this picture). 

I wished I had left a bit of fabric at the bottom. I am now nearly 7 months pregnant and it is fine, but it is probably not going to last me that long - although the maternity jeans is/will be helpful. 

I made a size 42/44 (following the measurements) but I should have really stuck to my normal size (40/42) - it would have been a bit more hugging, and less pregnancy-like. But give me a month, and I might be happy to have that excess fabric on the sides! 

I do love that shirt, it works for casual look as well as work wear. I like how the plumetis adds interest to the fabric in a subtle way. You can read Michelle's review here

This is of course not my first time sewing a Pauline Alice patterns, and in addition to the sew along videos the illustrations are really good and make the process very enjoyable. You can see my Cami dress and Malvarosa dress here and here - all made when I was not pregnant, those were easy times to sew garments!