Thursday, November 20, 2014

So This is Fifty

Shameless knitter in the workplace
So... here I am, half a century young.
I woke to find that FL had lain my birthday card on the pillow beside me.  It opened to reveal pop-up butterflies... or moths, we joked, now that I am old and moth-eaten!
And on reaching the breakfast table, still somewhat bleary-eyed, I found... a spinning wheel!
I don't know whether it is functional, or purely ornamental.
FL reckons "it works" but I don't yet know where he found it, (no doubt a story for another day) so it will require some basic checks to ensure it has all the necessary moving parts.
Wow!  A tad overwhelming, but wow!
Um yes, I always pose for selfies at lunchtime, sir!
Also awaiting me this morning was a wonderful handknitted gift from my BFF Christine.
It is Lush by Tin Can Knits - and it fits perfectly.
I love the buttons she and her daughter chose :)
I wore it to work today.
The best thing about a handknitted gift is that the Other Knitter is more likely than me to weave in all her loose ends - there are no mini skeins left dangling in either sleeve, unlike all of my me-made sweaters / cardis!  LOL
Is that a spinning wheel I see before me?
So... how did I get on with "49 Before 50"?
In the end, I drummed up 41 goals.
I fully achieved 16 of them.
I fully failed on 5 of them.
The rest were "partially implemented".
Not too bad!
The 5 failures were an odd mix.
Would you believe that I failed to Walk on the Beach?
No - just a time machine
Considering I can see the sea from the car on my drive to work, this is inexcusable!  I could probably walk there in my lunch break!  So that is what I must do, sooner rather than later.
That would also contribute to my fitness goals.
Yeah... those were failures too.
But there are lots of positives to report. 
Best of all, I was True to Myself.
 And... I Learned To Spin.
Which is just as well under the circumstances!
Performance art?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Clearing the Decks for Holly (with a FO)

Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holl-y fa la la la la, la la la la!
Oh no you didn't, Roo!
Apologies.  Here we are in mid-November, and already I am torturing you with seasonal songs.
But here is how it is:  the Big Red Doily is  now on row 148 of 184, which has started to feel do-able, and I am in full Christmas-knit-planning mode.

I finished my latest stripey socks:  Optio by Anneh Fletcher, "Shanghai Lily".  She designed these in honour of Professor Mick Aston, the stripey-sweater wearing archaeologist of Channel 4's "Time Team".  FL loves "Time Team".  So what better pattern to use for his stripey socks?

Pattern:  Optio by Anneh Fletcher, currently 25% off on Ravelry with the coupon code giftalong2014.
Yarn:  On Line Supersocke 100 Paradise Color 1437 (with aloe vera and jojobo oil)

Process: Completely straightforward.  I aimed for matching stripes and I got them - woo hoo!

The USP of this top down sock pattern is the absence of a heel flap.

Instead, you work a triangular insert at either the back of the heel or the instep (your choice).  This makes all the space you need for the heel turn.  No picking up of stitches required.

Verdict?: These are wonderfully stretchy with all the spring-back you need for a well-fitting sock.
I am holding them in reserve as a second pair for FL's Christmas, because at the moment the only other thing I can think of getting him is a map of Roman Britain.

Yesterday, I thought I would knit up my handspun, using the Windschief pattern by Stephen West.
I originally tried to ply the yarn but it was far too thick, so I decided to knit the singles.  I did not prewash them, so there was a lot of over-spinning to contend with.
I ran out of yarn at the crown shaping.
I will have to buy some more undyed Jacob fibre and stripe it up with the last few yards of the over-dyed stuff.
It has created an incredibly warm and windproof (bulletproof?!) fabric.
I had half-planned to give this to FL but I know that he would complain it was too hot and scratchy and does not cover his ears.
Some people, eh?
I am not about to gift my precious handspun to a sceptic, so this hat will be mine, for use in blizzard conditions.  So hopefully there is no rush to finish it...?
It's a great pattern, and a quick knit - highly recommended!

I have one more Christmas knit to deal with.  I had better not write about it here ;)
Suffice to say, I haven't actually cast on yet.

To make up for all this gratuitous use of the C-word, have a gift from me:  yesterday's sunset.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Book Review: Gertie Sews Vintage Casual

The following is a review of Gertie Sews Vintage Casual by Gretchen Hirsch.  I was not sponsored or otherwise enticed to buy this book.  In fact, I struggled to find many reviews of it before I pressed "Buy it Now".

I bought this book in the hope that it would kick-start my flagging sew-jo.
Has it?
I am afraid not. (No, I did not sew a skirt this weekend.)
There are lots of things I really like about it.
It is full of good sewing and pattern-drafting advice to help you make well-finished clothes that fit.
The concept chimes perfectly with my idea of how I want to dress in the workplace:
"everyday retro"..."luxurious comfortable wardrobe basics", based on "The American Look" of the 1940's and 1950's.
The line drawings are lovely.  Reminiscent of the drawings on vintage pattern envelopes, they make me want that dress.  I want to be that girl.
But the photographs of finished garments?  Eeugh.  No.
It took me a long time to figure out what was putting me off.
Gertie and her pals are good-looking gals with plenty of pizzazz and attitude.  I love their hair, their make up, their tattoos, their style.  But in those garments?  Frumpy.
And if a 20-something girl with pink hair and tattoos looks old-fashioned and dowdy in that skirt / top combo, what hope is there for a greying middle-aged woman?

I think part of the problem may be that they are photographed square-on, against a single-coloured background.  There is no context.  It is too flat, two-dimensional, stark.  If I don't like the fabric Gertie has chosen, it is hard to see beyond it.
I am such a sucker for aspirational bookcase backgrounds - stick her in a library and I might like this sweater.
I tried to ignore the photographs and focus on the drawings.
Ooh!  A cobbler's apron!  That's exactly what I need!
But it is not in the book.

OK, try again... 40's style wide legged pants!    Um... not exactly.  You take the basic cigarette pant pattern and add 2 inches either side of the original seam lines, straight down to the hem.  Um, no.
That would be fine as a quick-fix fancy-dress costume design, but as anyone who has made vintage-pattern trousers can tell you, the crotch rise is entirely different in a wide-legged style (low slung) from a cigarette pant (high slung).  And the accompanying photograph confirms my fear - ugly, granny trousers, clinging in all the wrong places.

I wanted to love this book, I really did, but right now it is making me feel sad.
It sets out to provide the home-sewer with the basic patterns to create an entire vintage-casual wardrobe, in "modern sizes", with instructions to alter the fit to suit your own body shape.  But the "modern sizes" are definitely not my size.  I would have to redraft every single pattern, because the proportions are so far away from my own.
This probably means there are a lot of very happy curvy stitchers out there, praising Gertie for her "updating" of previously unattainable vintage styles.  But I would have to cut a size 2 bust, 6 waist, and 3 hip (if 3 even existed) instead of just picking up an original pattern from 1948 that fits me exactly.  Why would I bother?
So for several weeks now I have been lamenting my over-sized waist.  No, I was not thinking my bust and hips were too small, I was thinking my waist was too big.  And that is depressing and dysmorphic and just plain wrong!
Fat and frumpy.  That's how this book made me feel.
And that's not a good selling point.

By far the best-looking patterns are the ones for knit fabrics.  There is a sweetheart-neck tee just like the one they sell at Collectif.  And there is a waist-length "sweater" made out of knit fabric which I would wear, if I could source suitable fabric (problem).  But there is nothing in here I am sufficiently excited about to get out my pattern-drafting tools.

Would I recommend this book to others?
I do think that if you are a curvy gal who likes a retro-looking garment and are keen to engage in drafting your own patterns, this could a good buy.
But if you want "the real thing" and have vintage proportions like me (1948 and 1968 are my golden years!) you might be better off buying original patterns from Etsy and keeping this on your coffee table.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Copacetic Kebabs

  1. in excellent order.
    "he said to tell you everything is copacetic"

How else to store your Turkish spindle-loads of singles than as kebabs on a 10mm knitting needle?
I can really see the improvement from lower to upper yarn-balls.
I am about to start my third spin of this Mixed Jacob braid from Fondant Fibre.  Will it be even thinner?  I hope so!
In sock news, I have just worked the heel shaping on my second Optio sock.
I still can't quite get my head around how this sock fits, but it does.
These are for FL, because he doesn't have any self-striping socks.  How is that even possible?!

I am cracking on with the Big Red Doily (blanket) and am now onto the third skein of Cascade Eco Plus, at row 138 of the pattern.  I have decided to aim for the small size blanket, which is supposed to fit a twin-size bed.  This will still take me into a fifth skein of yarn, if my calculations are correct.  Gulp.

I am not happy with my Brickless scarf.  The proportions are not as expected, and I fear it is going to have too much long skinny dangle going on.  RRRRRRRRRRRRIIIIIIIIIIIP!

I thought it was about time I showed you my new uniform.
This is the dark denim Peggy skirt I made in February this year.
My diary tells me that I wear this at least twice a week, sometimes ahem four times a week!
For a garment that was almost sent to landfill, that's pretty impressive!
However, after that many outings, it is starting to develop a saggy bottom and I really need to get on the case to make a back-up garment.
Why do I love it so much?  I think it is the sturdiness of that organic cotton denim, in such a solid shade of cobalt blue.  (The fabric came from here.)  It goes with everything.  The shape I eventually pared it down to is a gentle A-line:  not too wide and definitely not a pencil.  So it is that elusive blend of smart and casual.
You see it here with a new shop-bought shirt (Howies, organic cotton, bought in a half-price flash sale) and my second-hand Jack Wills shetland-feeling-wool yoked cardigan (made in China) which has started falling apart and is darned in several places.
At the risk of making promises I will fail to keep, it is my plan to take this outfit as the basis for my next few projects.
I have had the Pauline Alice Carme blouse pattern for ages.

I still have my tracing of the Bluegingerdoll Peggy skirt pattern, which I can hack to match the final version of my skirt.
And I have pre-ordered Kate Davies's forthcoming book Yokes - ooh yeah!

It is noon on Sunday.  If I just shut down this laptop now, get off my lazy bottom and head upstairs, I could have a skirt half-made before it is time to make dinner.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Rainbows, Unicorns and the Big Red Doily

I navigate the internet with confusion and caution these days.
The web is littered with nostalgia for the way blogs used to be.
I found myself questioning "the point" as if I needed to justify the existence of this place I call Roobeedoo.
But I don't.
So I won't.
Here be rainbows.
And sheep.

And socks
With unusual triangular heel flaps...

And a Big Red Doily.
 I am getting better at spinning.

And FL's Freelite score has gone down to 130 this month.  Keep taking the Pomalidomide.
Woo hoo!
At this rate, you might see some sewing on this blog one day soon!

PS  Still looking for unicorns?  Me too.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

FO: Woodcutter's Socks (An Enchanted Knit)

 FL's Christmas socks are finished.
These are the Woodcutter's Socks by Rachel Coopey from Enchanted Knits, an Interweave magazine.
I used Dublin Dye Co Swing Sock yarn in the Stone Wall colourway.
My drystane dyke is not the same colour as they are in Dublin, clearly!
It is a beautiful pattern, with a double braided cable on the outside of each foot, and broken rib around the leg and down into the foot.
The yarn is a subtle blend of spiralling dyes - there are greys and pinks and mauves and browns in here, all in similar tones so they don't distract from the stitch pattern at all.
I just clicked through to the dyer's Etsy shop to create my link and ought to warn you about some highly tempting colourways to be found there.
OMG Library!
Not to mention Sea Shell...
 Ahem.  Sorry.
Of course, as soon as I finished those socks, instead of getting on with my Big Red Doily (aka the blanket I think I am going to have finished for Christmas hahahaha maybe not!), I cast on another pair.
On the face of it, these are a simple 2x2 rib in self-striping yarn (Online Supersocke 100 in Paradise Color 1437).
But I am using the Optio pattern, which has triangular heel shaping.
And as you can see, my copy of Felicity Ford's Knitsonik book arrived today.
How long do you give me before I start a new colourwork project?
Especially with all the autumnal inspiration on  my doorstep.
This afternoon I went out seed-collecting.
I was determined to harvest some of those mysterious poppies that popped up in the field this summer.
And while I was at it, I gathered some seed heads from the marigolds in my herb garden. I sent some of these to Christine last year, and their cousins are now growing strong in Glasgow :)
What shall I do now?
Some spinning?
I have had a go at spinning some Mixed Jacob fibre on my Turkish spindle, with mixed results.
It is pretty chunky!
Dreadlocks, anyone?
I think I will go back to my sock.
And brew a pot of Bella Granata Pomegranate Fruit Tisane from a recent tea-splurge.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

FO: Paros Hat from Knitscene Winter 2014

Welcome to today's edition of "You know it's autumn when Roo knits hats".
This was not supposed to happen.
I was meant to be concentrating on The Big Red Doily.
Instead I knitted a beehive.
Or a honey pot?
FL says it is a Thai temple.  Nah!

Being autumn, the sunshine and shadows played havoc with my attempts to take pictures in Nature.

So here is the traditional window-sill shot, which fails to capture the shape or the colour contrast of the pastel rainbow against the tweedy beige base yarn. But does a pretty good job on the texture of that spiralling stripe of purls.
Pattern:  Paros Hat by Robin Allen from Knitscene Winter 2014
Yarn:  50g of Berrocco Blackstone Tweed (65% wool, 25% superkid mohair, 10% angora) in colour 2602, with some Cyborg's Craftroom Bested base worsted in the Sidewalk Chalk colourway, leftover from my Ertebolle Hat (not yet blocked or blogged).
Needles:  3.75mm and 4mm dpns
Button:  Ceramic rainbow, a gift from my friend Christine.  Thank you again!

 Have you seen my spiral?
There is no subtle way to photograph this!
I cast on yesterday.
I was supposed to be looking out the Blackstone Tweed from the stash to make this same pattern with a stripe of my first-ever handspun.  But the handspun is still drying after its twist-setting bath, so when I came across the remains of this Sidewalk Chalk.... zoom zoom!
I really enjoyed knitting this:  quick, easy, satisfying.
The stripes propelled me onwards until there seemed no point in stopping.
My only mistake was at the beginning, when I tried to twist the main and contrast yarns together at the beginning / end of each row.
This looked quite unsightly on the right side... hence the rainbow button feature!
Crikey - it looks even worse than I remembered!
I must have had my eyes shut!
But I am really pleased with the finished hat:  stash-busting of the very best kind!