May 6, 2014

FO and a WIP (sort of)

Filed under:Epic disaster,Finished Objects,Shawls,Works In Progress — Aileen @ 12:20

I’m over the jetlag and now I’m just tired! I also have a massive case of the Blahs, where nothing will ever be fun again, you know the feeling? Kind of like the third week of January. I realise how silly this is because 1. Spring! 2. I finish work in 4 weeks and I’m a free woman for the whole summer; 3. I probably won’t be this tired for the rest of my life even though it feels like it right now.

Anyway! I have a FO to show you. I brought this with me to Japan and didn’t knit a stitch on it. This was mostly down to not having my phone and thus not having the pattern. I could have looked it up on Ravelry but events did not conspire to motivate me.


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The pattern is ‘Mairin’ by Ysolda Teague and the yarn is Fyberspates Scrumptious 4-ply. I think it’s a 50-50 silk-wool blend. It’s sooooo nice to knit with, very drapey and not too sticky. Part of the reason I didn’t work on this was also because I really didn’t think I’d have enough yarn to finish. In the end, I had maybe 5cm. Too close for comfort!

The pattern is really good and has the perfect balance of interest versus plain. I really like the cables and how the cross. This is the whole thing:


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But it’s not that big and sits pretty well around the shoulders.


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Have you heard of Me Made May? It’s an annual effort to wear something you’ve made every day and document it. I’ve been taking part and you can follow my efforts over on Instagram. You’ll find me there as ‘knittingneels’.

So my other WIP I started whilst in Japan.


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I blindly knit the entire body of a V neck jumper. It is 4 inches too wide. The upside is that I love the yarn: Mia by Debbie Bliss, a 50-50 wool cotton blend. My lesson to be learned is don’t do maths on the road!

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April 28, 2014

Catch up

Filed under:News! — Aileen @ 12:41

Hello! It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Since I last wrote I’ve been busy with music things – first some concerts with Con Tempo quartet, then with my saxophone partner, then competitions, then playing for exams. All of these things are not hectic in themselves but when you add in a normal working week, it’s a bit mental.

Anyway! Everything went well and come Easter, we headed to Japan. We’ve been talking about going there for years now. When we first discussed it, the yen was very strong and it was too expensive to go for any satisfactory length of time. Now, things are different with rates as good as €1 to ¥135, and it became clear that we had to take our opportunity. We spent the full two weeks of Easter break there and returned late Saturday night.

As luck would have it, my phone broke on the first day, which is why I didn’t share any photos whilst on the move. So what I’ll do is, as I work my way through them, I’ll share little groups of pics and share what we got up to and what it’s like. We travelled around a lot. Tokyo in itself took a full five days. We went north to a smaller place called Kanazawa where we caught the end of the cherry blossoms. Then west to Kyoto, from where we travelled on to places like Nara and Hiroshima on day trips.

As I am in the throes of unpacking, allow me to share some spoils that I brought back. I did a lot of research while I was there to try and find things unique to Japan – most main stream things are the same as at home.

On one of our first days in Tokyo, we found ourselves at Shibuya, that enormous crossing that you see in most photos of Tokyo. Close to there, I stumbled upon a place called Loft which I found out later is a popular chain store for this kind of stuff:

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And these type of things:

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I got some rice moulds as well, since they are expensive to buy online. You know how much I love bento so this place was a lot of fun!

When we returned to Tokyo on our last leg, we ended up staying in a hotel right in the fabric district. I may or may not have encouraged this hotel choice. Again, much of what was on sale were fabrics that I could buy at home, and even though they were a lot cheaper, I still passed them by. Suitcase real-estate was at a premium by this stage! Here’s what I went for:

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From the bottom up, the spotty green is a sheer rayon, enough for a top; the anchors is a cotton lawn, enough got a dress obviously!; and then a glossy polyester in the most subdued Japanese print I could find. It’s still a bit crazy but I think it’ll make a nice dress. All of this I got from ‘Tomato’ for about €30.

In Kyoto, I found these in a tiny little shop hidden behind a curtain near the Ninja temple (yes, for real).

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I thought they were fat quarters but they’re hemmed hankies!

Lastly, the mandatory silly print.

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I think I need a new kitchen apron…although a summer bag would be pretty amazing too, right?!

I got one more small thing in Kyoto that is very special so I’ll save that for a post of its own!

It’s great to be home but I’m wrecked. I walked a pair of shoes apart.

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February 6, 2014

Classic Worsted Cabled socks & a review

Filed under:News! — Aileen @ 08:00

(ETA: I wrote this over a week ago and forgot to hit post! I’m all better now!) In hindsight, I’m not surprised that my last post was full of little frustrations because immediately after that, I got sick. Today is the first day in over a week that I haven’t woken up dizzy with a headache. I’ll be glad to see the back of January! Although I still managed to struggle in to work, I also managed to do things like pick up a puncture on the bike and not close the car boot properly so when I went to go to work on Sunday, the battery was dodo. Luckily for us, a friend was able to give us a jump so the car is ok. I’ll be able to retrieve my bike from school and fix the puncture tomorrow.

All this to say that there are times when one really needs a good pair of comforting socks – to knit and to wear.


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I used Patons Diploma Gold DK which is a 55% wool/25% acrylic/20% nylon blend and very soft and squishy. I was really pleased with the definition in the cables considering the high artificial content. I tried out a new cast on, a stretchy rib cast-on that I found in the ‘Cast on, Bind off’ book (reviewed here). It worked very well but I would prefer a neater edge. It is very stretchy though.

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I used a new (to me) type of heel – eye of partridge – and I love it!


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They have star toes as well. They’re ok. I’m not sure if I like them or not. They’re very comfortable but since my toes turn my foot into a sort of triangle at the top, I’m wondering if I should stick to the wedge toe I usually make.


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The pattern is one from this magazine, a seemingly once-off edition of ‘Hand Knit Socks’ from the publisher of Threads magazine. Here it is listed on the publisher website. I paid €6.94 for it in Easons (O’Connell St) and they had a big stack of them about two weeks ago so they still might have some.


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It’s more like a book than a magazine to be honest. They cover pretty much everything you would want from a sock. It starts with tube socks in a variety of weights and sizes. Most of the patterns range from childrens (sometimes even babies) sizes all the way up to large mens.

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There are sections for textured socks…

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…lace socks…

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…as well as colourwork socks and more crazy-looking socks with bobbles, beading or thrumming. There’s a big variety in terms of yarn weights used so the possibilities for shopping your stash are high. The other thing I really liked about it is that at the back, there is a comprehensive reference section for heels and toes. They give the numbers and methods for all of the toes and heels used, such as short row heels, flaps and gussets, wedge toes, star toes and so on. The patterns refer you to this appendix according to what size you’re knitting. It’s quite clear and a really handy reference to have if you’re knitting a different sock but want to change the toes or heels. You can match up your stitch count to the reference and continue on.

I found an error in the written instructions for this sock – one or two of the twists are reversed. In this instance, a chart would have been clearer but I just adjusted my knitting so it looked like the photo.

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February 3, 2014

January outfit #2

Nobody probably noticed but I was foiled in my attempts to post an outfit for October. There were two reasons. Firstly, all my photos were out of focus thanks to user error and secondly, in said photos, I noticed a fitting problem that I couldn’t rectify. So I have put the blouse of said post to one side and here’s the skirt that I made in another combination.

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The skirt is Sewaholic’s Hollyburn, a flared number that comes in three lengths – this is the middle length. I used a chocolate brown wool crepe from Truro fabrics. It was my first time using a wool crepe but it won’t be my last! It’s one of the easiest fabrics I’ve ever seen and pressed like a dream. Swoon! The pattern is very straight forward, with a high waist and pockets. I’ll definitely be making this in a shorter length for summer!

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The shirt is the Grainline Archer modified into a henley. I kind of tore my hair out over this one (needlessly) but I learned lots from doing it and it turned out well. I used a lovely light, pale blue chambray that I got before Christmas.

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I don’t think this is necessarily the best blouse to wear with this skirt but I do like pale blue and brown together.

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I also finished my Larch cardigan! Short row shawl collars are sloooow to knit. Everything looked a bit uneven so I blocked it with great results.

For this, I used eight balls of Debbie Bliss Rialto 4-ply so as cardigans go, definitely not the most expensive.

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It has a really, really nice drape which I think will go even better over skinny jeans or belted with a pencil skirt.

The instructions say to work the shawl collar and then sew the side edge to the cardigan. I didn’t think that would be easy to accomplish neatly so I attached it as I went, picking up a stitch each time and working two together. It worked fine but because I was working back and forth, the two sides ended up a bit different.

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In the end, I sewed in a little ridge in the inside to make them both look the same. Upon close examination I guess it’s not undetectable but I doubt many will care to examine.

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I’ve been wearing this a lot recently! It’s been so stormy and miserable here, I just love pulling this on.

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January 29, 2014

A pincushion

Filed under:News! — Aileen @ 08:00

In my limited experience, making those little things that accompany activities are not quick to make! You know, project bags, needle books, pincushions, things for the kitchen – they can take a few hours. So, I don’t tend to make a lot of them because I’d rather be making clothes.

That said, this was a particular need. I’m quite a clumsy person despite trying to be careful. I can do very delicate things with my hands and I’m good at visualising things, especially in 3D, but I tend to forget where I am and that, my friends, is a recipe for tripping, knocking things over and falling up and down stairs. So I can imagine myself on the stairs with a cup of tea and where each foot is in relation to each step but when I am actually ON the stairs, my mind is at my sewing machine and that is when my cup of tea meets the stairs.

All this to say that I am sick of knocking my box of pins over and inevitably coming up a few short each time. A pincushion was needed. But why make an ordinary pincushion? I could use this as a reason to try something out. I thought that perhaps something in cross-stitch would give a good firmness to the cushion. I looked on etsy and found this design as a digital download from this shop. Upon visiting now, I see that this particular design is not offered for sale at the moment but it will probably be listed again.

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I had most of the colours already in my little floss stash, as well as some blank aida. The design says that it’s for tapestry yarn and for a much bigger type of canvas but I didn’t want anything too big or heavy, so I stuck with what I had.

I used a little Tanya Whelan fat quarter for the backing. It was in my embroidery box and I had forgotten about it, so it was a nice surprise that it matches so well.

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I stuffed it with some polyfill and let me tell you, it really took a lot! For such a small thing!

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The pattern was very clear and easy to follow. I probably could have made life easier for myself by using a few less strands of floss – I used the full six strands – but I didn’t want to risk having less than full coverage. I wasn’t bothered filling in the white patches with white floss but other than that, I worked it as per the pattern.

I’m not going to say that that’s the end of pins on the floor but it’s a start!

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