Introducing ‘Clemmie’, A new pattern for the Susan Crawford Vintage Label

The Clemmie drape is my first pattern for the Knits for a Cold Climate collection under the Susan Crawford Vintage label.

 Clemmie1

Knits for a Cold Climate is inspired by Nancy Mitford’s most famous novel, “Love in a Cold Climate”, and is a collection of single patterns all inspired by Nancy, her novels, her life and her family. Nancy was one of the original “Bright Young Things” – a group of decadent and bohemian socialites roaming the party scene in interwar London – and she used these experiences in her books. Clemmie is the third release from the collection, following Nancy herself and Asthall.

It’s been difficult keeping this exciting collaboration with Susan and Karie Westermann under wraps. I’ve so enjoyed working to Susan’s design brief, but it has been a challenge to reign in the inspiration this period provides for lovers of vintage fashion and knitwear.

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Clemmie knitted in Fenella Atomic Red with a Jonquil sash (top) and Roman Plaster Sash (above).

When Susan and I first started discussing a design collection to include her new Fenella yarn I was immediately drawn to the 1930s, a period when much knitwear called for 3 ply yarns, but also characterised by elegant glamour, a little more restrained than the 20s, but perhaps more sensuous for it.

This period saw the return of the waistline and accessories of the period, including capelets, shrugs and boleros, would stop just below the fullest point of the bust to emphasise the natural waist and hips. This can be seen in this illustration for Germaine Page hats, which also features the drape that was my original inspiration for Clemmie.

Chapeaux_par_Germaine_Page_et_Marcelle_L_ly_Les_Chapeaux_de_la_femme_chic_1930

The period was also characterised by details and designs that broadened the shoulders, again to offset the waist, and an emphasis on necklines. The use of bows, interchangeable collars, corsages and panel details were all key elements of garment design. The lace edging detail on Clemmie was inspired by a garment that features these elements so redolent of 1930s design and which is my favourite vintage piece; a crepe de chine dress, cut on the bias and constructed to hug the waistline and hips, with panel inserts in the skirt to make it float at the hem. The panels of exquisitely hand sewn mesh, satin inserts and satin covered buttons at the neckline of the dress informed my choice of the simple mesh lace edging for Clemmie.

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Knitted on 4mm needles, the Fenella creates a fine open fabric with wonderful drape which makes it an elegant finishing touch for formal wear but, as our model remarked, is surprisingly warm making it also ideally suited as elegant outer wear. 

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The Details:

You can buy the PDF Clemmie pattern from the Susan Crawford shop here

OR

You can buy the pattern from Ravelry here. The PDF pattern costs £3 (You do not need to be a member of ravelry to make a purchase from the site.)

The PDF pattern costs £3

You can also purchase or take a look at all the possible colour combinations of Fenella in the shop here

Materials Required:

Option 1

Main body – 5 skeins of Fenella 2 ply wool

Contrast drape – 1 skein of Fenella 2 ply wool

Option 2

Main body worked in 2 colours with all lace edgings in contrast colour and drape worked in main colour;

Main colour –4 skeins of Fenella 2 ply wool

Contrast colour – 3 skein of Fenella 2 ply wool

1 pair of 4mm needles

Stitch markers

Stitch holder

Fenella retails at only £4a skein making Clemmie an extremely cost effective project.

 Clemmie3Main colour: Columbine, Drape: Marriner

And why Clemmie?

The original Clementine was the grandmother of the Mitford sisters. She married Algernon Bertram Mitford, a diplomat who had travelled in Russia, China and most notably Japan, about which he authored Tales of Old Japan , before serving under Disraeli.

Clementine and Algernon were also patrons of the artist James Whistler, whose interest in Japanese art they shared and who painted portraits of both Clementine, ‘in draperies of Chinese blue silk’ and Algernon ‘in Van Dyke costume’. Unfortunately both paintings are believed to have been destroyed by Whistler to avoid them falling into the hands of his creditors.

Clementine and Algernon as Lady and Lord, then Baron Redesdale spent summers at Batsford Park, where their grandchildren visited them in the summer. On the death of her husband, in 1916, not long after that of their eldest son who died on the Western Front a year earlier, the title and Batsford Park passed to David Mitford, father of the Mitford sisters, who moved in with his family briefly before selling it and moving to Asthall. Clementine moved to Redesdale Cottage, the family’s country home in Tynedale where they had extensive land holdings. She stayed there taking an active part in community life until her death in 1932.

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The second Clementine was the daughter of Clementine and Algernon’s eldest son, Clement. She was born after her father died in the Battle of Loos in 1915. It’s said that her childhood was as the ‘relatively’ poor relation once the inheritance went to her father’s younger brother, but she married well aged 23 in 1939, having been proposed to by Alfred Beit under the family’s Goya. Beit was a conservative MP and heir to the wealth accumulated by his father, a South African diamond millionaire and a considerable collection of paintings now housed in the National Gallery of Ireland.

Whilst a child Clementine’s mother spent periods abroad with her second husband and Clementine spent much of this time with her cousins. She was regarded as a great beauty, and cousin Nancy described Clementine as one of London’s 10 most elegant women.

During the Second World War Beit served in Bomber Command and Clementine worked in a factory making air reconnaissance cameras and became a member of the Transport Workers’ Union. After the war they went to South Africa and planned to stay, but returned in 1952, reportedly due to their opposition to the National Party’s apartheid regime. On return they moved to Russborough House near Dublin. Their art collection made them target of burglaries at Russborough House in the 1970s and 1980s.

Here is Clementine, with the her grandmother Clementine, the Dowager Lady Airlie (having reverted to her own title when her daughter in law inherited the title ‘Lady Redesdale’ on the death of her husband)

clemmie and clemmie

The third Clementine, was another ‘cousin’ Clemmie, the daughter of grandmother Clementine’s sister Blanche, and Lord Henry Hozier. However, due to her mother’s infidelities, her paternity is disputed with one of the candidates Aunt Clementine’s husband, Algernon.

Again, regarded as a great beauty this Clemmie married Winston Churchill in 1908 and the Mitford girls spent time with them at Chartwell when growing up, although Diana and Tom Mitford, the lone brother among the sisters, visited most regularly as playmates for the Churchill’s children, Diana and Randolph.

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Clemmie made her début at Yarndale along with Asthall and it was wonderful to see the response from knitters after quite a long gestation period. Thank you to everyone who stopped and looked and indeed even stroked her. Pattern pre-orders have now been dispatched so if she’s not with you yet, she will be shortly.

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All that lustres is not silk

Goodness, the weeks since Woolfest have rushed by in a whirl of knitting (yes I caught the stash dash bug), some very exciting secret knitting and a very wonderful trip north.

But back to Woolfest. It really is a highlight of the yarny year for me. It’s close enough that I really have no excuse not to go. Moreover, the ladies of the Blackpool Women’s Centre Knitting Group love it too and fundraise to cover the cost of transport, and this year started saving for their entry and spending money in January.

We also had some extra spaces left on the mini bus so offered them to local knitting group members and via Ravelry so met some lovely new people too, including Elaine who designs the Woolfest bags that are sold to raise funds for the local Air Ambulance, and Allison who came up from London and joined us in Lancaster. She has a fab post on her blog about her journey, with some great pictures of Woolfest itself. I always mean to take pictures during the day but get too caught up in it all and find it’s time to get the bus back and I haven’t taken a single picture. I particularly love her picture of the Portland Sheep; very distinctive sheep from a very distinctive part of my home county of Dorset.

I’m not much of a rule person but I do try to set myself some limitations at Woolfest, otherwise it could be ruinous indeed. This year I had a list of yarns I wanted to check out first hand and I wanted to get some needle felting supplies for a workshop with the Blackpool group. I was also looking for some advice on spinning with a drop spindle – I was concerned my spindle is too heavy for a beginner and I haven’t really got the hang of drafting effectively. I also set out with the intention of ‘no single skeins’ apart from something pink and sparkly for a hat for my niece for Christmas, lets just say that’s not something readily found in my stash. So did I succeed?

On the felting front, Yes:

fibre2Top: Dorset Horn, Bottom left: Dark Herdwick, Bottom Right: Light Herdwick
 

All the fibres were from Wingham Wool Work, along with the felting needles and the spindle – a lighter one than my existing fancier spindle which I struggle with. I also got advice regarding drafting at the P&M Woolcraft stand from a couple of wheel spinners who were having a go on an E-Spinner. They encouraged me to have a go and talked me through the drafting technique and I stayed and practiced, long enough to hear someone walk by and say ‘I’m not sure  agree with that’. I guess E-Spinners are not for the purists, but it certainly helped my drafting and I’ve been having more success with my spindle following the advice and practice.

In terms of checking out yarns I was keen to have a look at, and a feel of, John Arbon’s Viola, and having done so, some came home with me.

viola

True to my ‘no single skeins rule’ I just had to buy 5. I love the paler ‘Unpredictable’ colour way which combines a subtlety and richness of colour that I found irresistible. But, I’m not sure it’s a colour I could wear close to my face without both the garment and myself looking a bit washed out. So I’m hoping that combining it with the Aquarius and Ginger Nut in a yoked design will work.

This is a merino double knit 3 ply yarn which has a lovely lustre – I’m not entirely sure how they manage it, but I certainly appreciate it.

viola2

Another yarn I wanted to check out was Wensleydale Longwool Sheepshop. I’d seen this at Harrogate and suspected it would be a good yarn for a sweater for my OH. He has a favourite sweater which is fraying at the cuffs which I’d like to be able to reproduce, before the original (a commercially made garment) is beyond reverse engineering. So I just got a couple balls of DK to show him, let him feel it, and to swatch with.

wensleydale

I got two colours that I thought would work well together so I could use them to make a hat or something regardless of whether they turned out to be suitable for the sweater. My choice of yarn was approved and I’ll be getting some more of this in the near future.

This is another yarn that has a great lustre to it – maybe something of a theme developing here. You can buy this directly from the Wensleydale Longwool Sheepshop they don’t have an online shop but if you’re in the UK you can buy it from the source with a quick phone call or couple of emails. If this is a problem it is available online via Baa Ram Ewe.

I also got the skein of pink sparkle I was after for my niece’s Christmas present from Sparkleduck. It’s their Galaxy base in Rosebud colour way – it’s pink and a blend of superwash merino, nylon and stellina. It will be knit up in a pattern I’m working on – an excuse to check out alternate crown decreases on a smaller size and make a Christmas present at the same time. The colour has enough variation into the realms of dusky pink to placate me whilst being pink enough for my niece.

sparkle

I checked out a number of other yarns that I’d been curious about and noted them for the future, but didn’t buy any of them and was feeling somewhat virtuous. Of course that’s the point at which I fell from my perch and landed with the softest bump. I was re-charging by admiring the livestock; Woolfest always has a wonderful variety of fibre animals. It was no surprise to me that I was drawn to the Manx Loaghtans of the Lewislox Flock. They are very good looking sheep and those in the stall were bright eyed and appeared curious, and at the risk of being anthropomorphic, I’m quite sure they knew they were being talked about. I wavered between the wonderful woven blankets and yarn, and yes, I plumped for yarn – a full pack of 4 ply spun by the Natural Fibre Co. and 3 balls of a cream Wensleydale/manx blend. So, not a purchase I had planned but one I could easily justify as perfect for a sweater and it complied with the no single skein rule.

manx

My final yarn purchase saw me stray again from my resolutions but I can’t find an ounce of remorse or guilt within me on this one. Anyway, I didn’t buy a single skein I bought two. These skeins are worsted spun from lustre combed tops, a mixture of Teeswater and Wensleydale and they certainly retain the lustre. They’re from Teeswater Wools, Higher Gills Farm which is just down the road from me in Clitheroe, and were even closer the other day when I took a wrong turn on my way home from Blackburn… The random dyed skein has such a beautiful range of colours I thought they would be best showcased when matched with a natural undyed skein.

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And in case you missed that lustre.

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As my yarn choices may demonstrate and the title of this post attests to, I was rather taken by the gorgeous lustre of our local longwool sheep. They may not be as soft as merino silk blends, but the long smooth staples mean they’re not as harsh as you might think and will have added sturdiness and longevity. Having just spent a week in the Hebrides experiencing the full force of windblown horizontal rain, these latter characteristics seem to match my lifestyle more appropriately.

 

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Vintage Fridays: Munrospun Fair Isle Yoke sweater kits

I was thrilled to be given these Munrospun Fair Isle Yoke sweater/cardigan kits by a family friend this summer. The kit includes a ready knitted yoke saved on cotton thread and the yarn needed to knit the rest of the cardigan or sweater. The yarn is Munrospun Shetland 4 ply 100% pure virgin wool.

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The accompanying pattern reflects that the yoke would work on a range of sizes from 34 to 40 inch bust.

To make up the garments you:

  1. Knit the front/s, back and sleeves and work your button plackets separately.
  2. Join the yoke by pulling out the cotton thread and slipping the yoke stitches, all 263 of them onto a needle.
  3. Then you work across your pieces knitting stitches you’ve previously kept on holders and picking up where you’ve cast off stitches.
  4. The underarm stitches, also kept aside are the grafted.
  5. You then pull the cotton out of the stitches of the top of the yoke and put them on a needle.
  6. Sew the front bands onto the front if you’re doing the cardigan
  7. Work a ribbed neck band
  8. Sew up the sides if you’re doing the cardigan.

I wonder about how easy it would be to match tension. It says you need 7 stitches an inch so I guess as long as you get that and then block effectively it would look Ok.

I admit being vintage kits I have a real reservation about doing anything but looking at them and loving them. I may gift one to a friend who has a similar passion for vintage but I imagine the other will remain in kit form.

A fellow Raveller has recommended the Munrospun yarn still has and wears a sweater she made from it in the 1950s. Another who also came upon a kit struggled to make it up as she could get the stitch tension but not the row tension to match up, so used the yarn for something else, but again recommended the yarn for it’s bloom and softening when washed.

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These kits contain yarn spun in Galashiels, Scotland and I tried to do a bit of digging online but didn’t come up with a great deal regarding their operation in Galashiels. I have fished about before regarding their Restalrig, Edinburgh factory and that will be a different post, and what I found out about Galashiels took me to Bernat Klein who worked for Munrospun. That too will be for another post, after all I’m not sure there are many textile designers who have also worked for the British Intelligence Service.

 

 

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Vintage Knitting Finds

I thought I’d share a couple of great vintage patterns I got recently, one of which I will probably never knit and another that I’ve been swatching for.

I came upon these patterns whilst I was visiting my parents in Dorset before Easter. One of the local charity shops had opened up a vintage room upstairs so I just had to check it out.

I think both patterns date from the 1930s and both appear to have seen active service, or at least have required some taping together.

The first is a Copley’s pattern for June Clyde’s Tyrolean Coat.

june clyde 1

Tyrolean styles were popular in the 1930s and June Clyde was a movie star and appeared in many films at this time. She was a pretty regular feature in ‘Picturegoer’ a popular fortnightly magazine available in movie theatres from the mid 1920s in the UK. I imagine the magazine was aimed mainly at women containing very glamourous pictures of movie stars and also knitting patterns. This is referenced on the front of the pattern that had previously appeared in Picturegoer thus:

Instructions for knitting June Clyde’s pet woollie appeared recently in the “Picturegoer” and are reproduced in this leaflet by permission of that paper and Miss Clyde. Here is what she says:

This year’s loveliest handknits seem to have been inspired by the Tyrol – and isn’t mine the prettiest of all? Look at those cute “buttons”, which are just tufts of gay wool. And the cable effect – simply ribbing drawn together at intervals by two or three colourful stitches! I felt it would be a shame to keep such a gem all to myself so I gladly agreed to let the instructions be published.

You’ll find it easy and quick to make and I hope you’ll love it as much as I do.

The second pattern is a Paton’s & Baldwin’s ‘Helps to Knitters’ pattern for a Baby’s Knitted Set called ‘Maisie’.

 baby1

Whilst I think this is also a 30s pattern I think the design is remarkably contemporary with a nice combination of garter and stocking stitch with a simple geometric eyelet pattern. This is the pattern I’m excited to knit.

I also love that the pattern refers to ‘plain’ knitting. This is what I started knitting long before I’d ever heard of garter stitch. I’m not sure when people started calling ‘plain’ knitting garter stitch, but at home with my mum it is, and always has been, plain knitting.

The stocking stitch in this pattern appears to be referred to as ‘plain, smooth fabric’ to distinguish it from the ‘knit plain’ instructions.

Despite clear instructions to use the right wool to ‘be safe’ across the top of the page, this isn’t an option, instead I’ll have to stick to the other instructive heading ‘The right tensions is very important!’.

The pattern calls for No.7 needles, but converting an imperial No. 7 to a metric 4.5 seems a little on the big size if I’m aiming for 6 ½ stitches to the inch; the tension given. I’m assuming there was a whole other needle sizing scale at work at this point. I thought I’d try a 3.25mm and see how I got on.

I’m opting for 4 ply rather than the non-shrink baby 3 ply as I have 4 ply in my stash. I started swatching with some wool I’d dyed myself in pale green, turquoise and mauve. I started swatching in in stocking stitch or ‘plain, smooth fabric’ as instructed, and the pattern even provides a photograph to scale of the swatch. I then started to work a stepped transition from the plain, smooth fabric to plain knitting to see how the 2 textures would look in my slightly variegated wool.

swatch1

I decided the contrast was a little lost in the yarn and tried another swatch, this time in some deep red semi-solid red yarn that I’d also dyed myself. I really like how this yarn is knitting up – the results of my dyeing look so much better in the knitted fabric than in the ball, but I fear this may be a bit dark for a 6 month old.

swatch2

 The pattern is written for a single size – 6 months old only. The measurements given are for around the body at the under arms – 21 inches and length 11 inches. That seems a generous chest measurement but it’s not entirely clear how much ease is built in and how much flare there is. I think the shoulder measurements will dictate fit more but these aren’t given. I could work this out a bit more by deconstructing the pattern but actually with a fair few babies due this summer, including one twin known to be a girl (the other having hidden during the scan) I think I’ll have potential recipients across enough of a size range to not have to worry too much.

However, having dismissed my first two yarn choices I realised I don’t have too many young baby friendly coloured 4 plys in my stash. I don’t generally worry too much about this and have generally knitted 1 year old sizes in DK as baby gifts in the past using stronger, brighter colours. But my 4 ply solids are all distinctly dark and rather grown up.

The pattern calls for 2 ounces of 3 ply (yardage unknown) and I have 50g of Jaeger Matchmaker a nice pale caramel/camel colour which might stretch, but could also be rather tight if 3 plys give substantially more yardage than 4 plys, as would make sense. I also have 66g of the same yarn in pink. I’m afraid I can’t bring myself to knit the whole thing in pink but I think I’ll do the bottom hems and garter bands in the pink hoping that this will leave me with enough of the caramel to do the rest? I think they look good together.

yarns

The only other modification I’m going to make is to put in 3 buttonholes at the bodice/neckband rather than thread the ribbon through eyelets at the neck. I just think that’s a little more practical and I’m never sure about ribbon threaded through eyelets at the neck of a child’s garment. I’m not sure a 6 month old would have the manual dexterity to get itself into trouble but I’m not sure I want to put it to the test.

baby2

If all goes well and I enjoy knitting this (and sewing it up) there is a yarn that I think could work very well for this pattern.

Fenella by Susan Crawford is a 2 ply yarn that knits as 3 ply and I’ve had the opportunity to swatch with it. It’s gorgeous and knits up a great fabric at both a tighter and looser gauge. It’s also a dream in the hand and comes in a fabulous range of 16 colours.

Fenella_Group
Photograph © Susan Crawford

 

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Hawserlaid

I’m pleased to announce that my pattern Hawserlaid has been included in this years Scarves Collection from Quince & Co. appropriately named ‘Scarves Etc. 2014’.

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Hawserlaid is a wide shallow triangular shawl knitted from tip to tip or wing to wing, increasing, then decreasing as you go. The stitch pattern is a travelling rib that is worked asymmetrically across the shawl.

The sample is knitted in Quince & Co.’s Tern yarn, a beautiful fingering/4ply wool/silk yarn in the Dusk colour way. It was an absolute pleasure to knit with. It has a lovely hand and creates fabulous stitch definition and drape in the final fabric which also has a slight sheen. I liked it so much I have some more in the post on its way to me right now.

The idea for this shawl/scarf came to me whilst I was busily plaiting the onions, shallots, and garlic that we grew on our allotment this year. I plait our alliums so we can hang them in the kitchen and use them over the winter. Once plaited, the top end of the plait is folded over and I use heavy string to tie off the ends and to make a hanging loop. The string is made of multiple strands divided into three plies and twisted together. This is reflected in the stitch pattern I’ve used that imitates the texture and appearance of heavy string or rope. The knitting takes on this characteristic more and more as it is knitted. The knitter can then decide how much you want to block this out once finished.

As for the name, Hawserlaid, ‘laid,’ is the traditional term for twist in rope and string construction and ‘hawser’ refers to the three strands, so a hawser-laid rope is a three-strand twisted rope.

onions

What I love about Quince & Co. is not only that their yarn is gorgeous to knit with and comes in a stunning colour palette but also that it is produced in a considered and responsible manner. I think they put this very well on their website so I’ll just quote it here so you can see for yourself:

We offer wool yarns that are sourced and spun in the US. Known in the trade as “territory wool,” our wool comes from Merino, Rambouillet, and Columbia-based sheep that roam the ranges of Montana and Wyoming. All our wool and wool-blend yarns are spun in New England mills with venerable histories. By sourcing our wool in the US and manufacturing our yarn locally, we minimize our carbon footprint.

But, hey, as much as we want to promote our American sheep and yarns, we also want to enjoy the pleasures of fibers that aren’t readily available in the US. We also want to be responsible for what we import. So, when we blend our wool with other fibers, we find out as much as possible where, how, and by whom they came to be. If we’re sourcing a yarn from a plant fiber, we want to know if it was grown in conditions that are healthy for the soil and for those who tend and harvest it.

If we’re looking for an animal fiber, we want to know if the animal was raised in a way that sustains the earth and preserves the culture of the people who care for it.

If, like me, you’re not based in the US, you can be assured that there are UK companies who work on a similar model with similar commitment to their materials and it’s impact on our environment. But if you are based in the US or just want to widen your horizons I have knitted with both Tern and Chickadee and just love them both.

Anyway, back to Scarves Etc. 2014, I must admit it really is an honour to be included in such a beautiful collection. You can browse the patterns in the lookbook here. There really is something for everyone and something for every knitting mood, from lace and cables to garter and seed, textured and slipped stitches and colour work. Moreover, for those of us in temperate climes there’s something for every season, from ‘bundle me up it’s cold out here’ to ‘there’s a bit of a nip in this evening air so I may just cover my shoulders’.

Individual patterns or the whole ebook can be purchased direct from Quince & Co. (along with the required yarn), or via Ravelry.

The Quince & Co. group  on Ravelry is also hosting a Knit-A-Long. It starts officially on Monday 17th March and runs until April 30th. And what’s more, they’ll be picking 3 participants at random to win a $50 gift certificate to be spent on quinceandco.com – Do come over and join in for your chance to win and participate in the KAL chat.

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All photographs in this post © Carrie Bostick Hoge

Posted in Allotment, knitting, Patterns, Uncategorized, yarn | Leave a comment

Gift Knitting or ‘why do I always do this to myself ?’

I’m a little late to the end of year round up party and as we’re crashing headlong into the New Year it feels like the time for a full review has passed me by a little. So I thought I’d just share my adventures in gift knitting. I had thought I’d add a short design review and a few ideas for 2014, but this post got a bit long so I’ll come back for that.

I appear to suffer from a pretty universal knitters self delusion when it comes to ‘Christmas Knitting’. Around about October when thoughts of making the Christmas Cakes start to lurk, and then again in November when they actually get made, I resolve to not put undue seasonal pressure on myself with lots of gift knitting. After all there are all those work deadlines looming, designs that really need finishing off and publishing, and arrangements to be made for going away to visit family.

Then we start thinking about what presents should be bought and a combination of lack of inspiration and a horror of what the shops become and much of what they contain makes me think about what presents have worked well in previous years. In this respect I count myself fortunate that knitted gifts have been universally well received, but therein also lies my downfall and so it begins, and this year it went something like this:

My great niece (yes, scary I know, but I am the youngest and my brother started young etc.) is almost 2 so a sweater for her would be pretty quick = sweater 1.

My niece does like her hand knits, as does her mum, past gifts have come back to me the following year to lengthen the sleeves because ‘she lives in it’ = sweater 2.

My nephew is only four and all his cousins have been kept in hand knits for years beyond that and both his mum and grandma did ask for a sweater that would fit over his head as commercially produced sweaters have a too small neckline for his large bonce = sweater 3.

His elder brother likes his sweater and yes I still have one from a couple of years ago to add some extra length to, I wouldn’t want him to feel left out and this may be the last year before he get too ‘fashion’ conscious etc. = sweater 4.

Paolo wasn’t sure what to get his Dad but thought a hat like his would be perfect = 1 hat.

My sister in law suggested pot grabbers but from the message I wasn’t sure if she was suggesting them for herself or my parents in law, for whom I made them 2 years ago = 2 sets of pot grabbers. Then lacking inspiration for my other sister-in-law = 3 sets of pot grabbers.

So How did I do?

November saw an Indie designer ‘gift along’ on `Ravelry in which I participated. All designers offered 25% off their designs and knitters were encouraged to join knit alongs with prizes etc.

I bought the Rhymes with Shawl pattern by Jenny Wiebe for my Nieces and Abernathy by Terri Kruse for my youngest nephew. We picked out the colours in Cascade 220 and ordered the yarn for these and for a Knit Knit Hooray Hoodie for my eldest nephew. I must admit I did wonder what I was embarking upon when the yarn arrived and I started winding the 16 skeins of yarn into balls. But on I went.

We went to my parents in early December for my Dad’s birthday and to drop off all the Christmas presents so the girl’s cardies were my staring point. I played around with the colour combos a little and used every last yard of the darker purple – sewing the buttons on was a little touch and go – but I had just enough. They were completed and quickly photographed whilst still damp from blocking. Gift bags and labels were left with my Mum to package them up once they’d dried. Close, but I made it:

erin emma

So, I started on my father-in-laws hat – another Cairn knitted up in Rowan felted tweed – the green is the aran and the gold is the DK held double. These were stash yarns as selected by Paolo for his Dad. This was my fourth Cairn so it went pretty quickly and was mostly done by the time we’d driven up the motorway home.

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Next up was Abernathy. I’m not sure what it is about small boys but they seem to love the colour orange, their parents less so. I tend to side with the kids as they’re the ones who wear it and this burnt orange isn’t too screamy in my view. This was started at home and worked on on the ferry (this year we were in Italy with Paolo’s family for Christmas/New Year), through the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Switzerland and Italy when not driving or navigating and completed once we got there.

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I did the 6 year old size based on measurements I took in the summer but was still concerned it may be a bit too big, but actually it fitted pretty well with a little growing room.

I had also started my older nephews hoodie before we left. We had the DVDs of the first series of ‘The Bridge’ – again a little late to the party but quickly hooked. So I needed a sweater on the needles that I could knit whilst watching TV, reading the sub titles and not missing any of the subtle interactions etc. Stocking stitch in the round fitted the bill and I was a fair way up the body.

But then I stumbled.

My haste got the better of me as did secrecy and sociability. I was juggling between the sweater and crochet pot grabbers whilst trying to avoid the recipients seeing their presents but not hiding myself away.

Then I screwed up.

The Hoody pattern was chosen by Paolo and was designed to be knitted flat in pieces and then sewn up. To fit my preference and ‘need for speed’ I did the body in the round thinking I’d split at the under arms. But I just kept going and only when I got to the length for the front neck shaping did it occur to me that I had no arm hole shaping and indeed no holes for the arms…

So I had knitted four inches more than I needed to and had the dilemma of pulling back or seeing if the extra length would be Ok and just carry on splitting for the arm holes at this point. A quick hunt in the laundry and comparison with a pyjama top suggested it may be OK. So I just kept going. The only problem was that it was now Christmas Eve and I had only just realised that I was knitting a sweater that would probably fit me and wondering how did kids knitting get so big? Oh yes, they grow up don’t they.

So my nephew got a parcel containing the body of a sweater, joined at the shoulders and the promise of sleeves, hood and pockets. He tried it on to check the length and it was fine. More importantly for me, he looked so chuffed even with half a sweater that it spurred me on through the next week and the cold I picked up to finish all the other bits.

And finish it I did, the evening before we left. He tried it on and it looked fabulous on him and he had exactly the right degree of almost teenage slouch to carry it off. Unfortunately I have no pictures.

Meanwhile, on the pot grabber front, 9 were completed. 6 by Christmas Day and 3 more by the time the rest of the family arrived after Christmas, which was just as well because my sister-in-law walked into the kitchen, saw her parent’s pot grabbers hanging up and announced ‘That’s what I need – if you have three I can have one can’t I?”

pot grabbers

These were the first few, the rest were coming straight off the hook and into the wrapping paper.

So phew… it all got done… just.

So my resolutions for next/this year – get organised and start sooner.

And, if the above means you doubt me – I have already started one present and have selected the pattern for another! So, we’ll see how it goes…

And it wasn’t all knitting. We also did a fair bit of DIY and gardening whilst we were there. I was very taken by the electrical supplies shop, just the switch covers puts B&Q to shame… The plumbing supplies shop was less impressive.

We also went to see the local Presepe, or nativity scene – these are traditionally organised by  community groups as well as churches and this one was centred around a tree stump at ‘The Party” meeting hall; I’ll resist any reflections on religion and opium:

presepe

We saw out the old year with a bonfire on New Years Eve:

firea

phone fire4

And finally we saw snow on the way back home. This is a view of the Alps beyond the clouds as we drove towards the St Gotthard tunnel in Switzerland. There had been snow just before we left and the views of the Alps from Milan onwards were pretty amazing.

phoneice1

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It’s coming….

Yes it’s that time of year when we all start to panic about the impending seasonal activities that are creeping up all too swiftly. Well I am at least. So this is a bit of a fly by post.

Last year I designed some Seasonal Fererro Rocher cosies and released the pudding pattern as a Kids Company Fundraising pattern. Finally I’ve now written up and photographed the two other designs for a snowman and santa. So here are all three:

3 cosies

The PDF can be downloaded here: Seasonal Ferrero Rocher Cosies and Tree Decorations

This pattern part of  my series of fundraising patterns for Kids Company. These patterns have been designed for local fundraising and I’m happy for them to be used for your own charitable and personal use but please, not for personal profit or commercial use.

I would also ask that you consider making a small donation to Kids Company for the use of this pattern through my Just Giving page. This way the money goes directly to Kids Company to help fund their incredibly important and inspiring work with disadvantaged children and young people. At this time of year it seems even more important to support children and young people to feel loved and cared for.

The patterns uses leftovers of double knit yarn and are knitted  flat on two needles.

snowman

 

pudding

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