August 24, 2012

I’ve been a bad blogger

Filed under:News! — Aileen @ 07:59

There’s no getting away from it! I am an excellent procrastinator. I’ll tell you all about it later. For now, let me tell you about the things I neglected to tell you earlier. Like, the pile of sewing I did over the summer and never showed.

For the most part, they were quick and easy projects:

Yet another pair of these shorts, only longer and in a tan cotton – I’ve worn them all summer long;

Two Market skirts, one in red cotton with white buttons, another in blue, both fabulous quick sews and so tempting to pull on;

A sleeveless Pendrell blouse, made from my Edinburgh cotton and already worn lots;

A black polyester pair of Clover pants. I wasn’t sold on them initially but now that I’ve worn them and thought about what to wear with them, I love them! More please!

The Amy Butler Lotus Cami was a challenging sew but turned out nicely in a white cotton that has tiny pale grey polka dots. Not such a versatile pattern (such as her Anna or Liverpool patterns) that I’d make it again but I like the end result.

I fully expect to wear all of these right into October with cardigans, tights and soft knit scarves.

In that vein, I have been working away on another Lisette pattern, the Passport dress.

The bodice is a little big but I don’t mind that too much because I will probably end up wearing a blouse or top underneath it anyway. Isn’t it flowery and bright? I got the fabric in Ikea. It’s not listed on their website but it was about €8/m. All that remains is to hem it and attach the lining to the zip.

…and because I cut it out a few weeks ago, I couldn’t resist jumping into a new Colette pattern, Jasmine. Here’s where I am so far.

The collar itself was fine but the facing nearly broke me. I have since progressed and sewed both the sleeves – I was going to make version 2 with the notched cuffs – but they have turned out so peculiar! I couldn’t get the pieces to match up properly at all. I couldn’t get the notches to turn out right despite much poking, stitching and trimming. The end result is a cuff that looks very odd and a sleeve that pulls both in and out. I like the top very much so I think I will cut my losses and finish the armholes, making it into a sleeveless top. It is very pretty but I’m not sure the awkwardness of its features warrant another go.


August 23, 2012

The world as we know it

Filed under:Finished Objects,Stash Down,Sweaters,Works In Progress — Aileen @ 14:59

I’m reading a very interesting book at the moment. It’s not a new book; I think it came out for the turn of the millennium. It is called ‘The Year 1000: An Englishman’s Year’ and fits neatly into dense-history-for-laymen category. Well-written and to the point, I have found it funny and refreshing. Imagine a time when the number zero did not exist in western mathematics, when the cog had only recently been invented and the button had yet to come!

Anyway, think about enhancing the world we know by participating in an upcoming event: HandmAid Craft Day. This year it’s taking place on September 22nd in Damer Hall, Stephen’s Green. They’re looking for unwanted stash to sell or use for classes, handmade goods to sell, baked goodies for the cake sale. I donated some stash last year and this year will be no different. I have three big bags of yarn, fabric scraps, books and needles. It can be hard to liberate stash but at the end of the day, I’d rather it be used and benefit a good cause. This year, I’ve used it as an opportunity for a good clear out, unearthing unused materials from as long as a decade ago. Check out the website if you have anything to offer or if you’d like more information about participating in classes or shopping on the day.

I’ve turned into a rather good knitter recently, working on only one project at a time. It’s a bit weird but I can see how some like it. This is the vest I was working on in Iceland.

No pattern so the sleeve caps are a bit poofy. I didn’t take into consideration the spread of garter stitch – but I like it anyway. Modelled photos will come soon, I hope. The yarn is Jamieson & Smith’s Jumper weight 2ply (just over 4 balls) and I used 2.5mm needles. It blocked out wonderfully and was nice and sticky to work with. I found it dried out my hands quickly, though that was probably exacerbated by the fact that I was in a dry, cool, exposed climate at the time.

Since finishing it up, I found old stash that made me ‘ooooh’ and I cast on immediately for another Tailored Cardigan. It’s a free Drops pattern and I’ve previously made it in green (see here).

I think my knitting needs and wants have changed over the last few years. I am more content to crank out basic pieces because I know they’ll be worn. A lot of my attention and energy is going into music so I find plain knitting is pretty much all I can handle most of the time. That said, during the course of my clear out, I realised just how much I love some of my knitting resources – my Elizabeth Zimmermann and Barbara Walker books – and I think the time is ripe to re-explore their amazing bodies of work.


August 3, 2012


Filed under:News!,Photography,Stash,Travel — Aileen @ 17:09

Definitely time for some ketchup (catch-up… get it?!). I’ve been away! I went back to Switzerland to take the same masterclasses that I took last year. I had a great time! When I got back, I had a day to wash all my clothes and repack because Alb and I set off for Iceland. We had talked about going for a good while, and we didn’t feel like going so far away after all our travelling last year, so it worked out well. We got cheap flights via Edinburgh and we stopped off there on our way back.

Iceland is an extremely interesting country. It is a quarter bigger than Ireland but, with a population of about 300,000, it is very sparsely populated. The highlands dominate the centre of the island and are largely impassable with a regular car. So, they’ve built a ring road that goes around the coast. It’s well maintained and very, very scenic. We rented a car and drove the whole thing. It is something else. The landscape changes constantly, from volcano, glacier, mountains, valleys, fjords, lava fields, black deserts, millions of waterfalls and random holes in the ground puffing out steam. The weather, like here, changes constantly, but was more extreme: very hot in the sun, bitter sub-zero winds, driving rains, blinding fog. We lost about a day and a half to rain but otherwise were very lucky. We took a LOT of photos so, rather than write about it all at once, I think I will post photos as I process them and write a little bit about our experience.

For now, I’ll show you what I picked up. Wool, of course. Sheep were prevalent and wool was available in pretty much every supermarket in every village.

Laceweight Lopi, about 250m per ball. This was about €3-4. I got this in a supermarket in Hofn where the selection of yarn was far superior to that of fresh fruit.

DK Lopi, about 100m per ball. I think this came to about €10. I have no idea why I only got 4 balls of brown. I want to make a circular yoke vest with a pattern on the yoke; I don’t think 4 balls of brown will make it. Maybe if I knit loosely? I didn’t buy any more yarn than that because they only sold Lopi and it is very, very scratchy. I daresay it will be really warm but I only have so much room in my wardrobe for scratchy jumpers!

We had two full days in Edinburgh and it was lovely. We got good weather and had such a good time just wandering around. I found a weavers making proper wool tartan. This is so hard to find and even the polyester sort tends to be quite expensive here. The problem with tartan is that the patterns tend to be completely mental. This is lovely if you’re going the route of making a clan kilt and it’s your family pattern. I, on the other hand, was looking for something suitable for every day wear. After a long time looking, I came up with this.

It is quite dark so the colour did not come out very well. It is dark navy with a dark green, the highlight is bright blue. I think it will match a lot of my other clothes and shoes. At a mere 114cm wide and with such a broad check, I went for 2m out of the fear that I would not have enough to make anything substantial. This cost me the princely sum of £47. I would love dearly to eke a tunic or pinafore out of it but a skirt with an inverted pleat would be good too. I want to pick a garment that I can use a lot because the fabric is really fantastic; light, smooth but hardy. A pinafore with a dark green cardigan would be great, right?

There was a John Lewis right beside where we were staying so I went in for a look. I wish we had John Lewis here! I didn’t see anything in their knitting section that I couldn’t get at home but I spent a long time in their notions department. I came away with a packet of canvas webbing – something I have found impossible to get here – and a variety pack of snaps. Both were something like £1 each. The fabric is cotton from Tanya Whelan. I used another from the same collection for a Wiksten tank and have been so impressed with its quality. It washes and presses marvellously, and is so soft that it has become my go-to summer top this year. The Wiksten tank is quite wide so I bought the same quantity again, 1.5m, with the intention of a top not so wide but with some sort of sleeve. Maybe a neat blouse; I need to peruse my patterns.

Some retail therapy is always fun, of course, but really it was scenes like this that recharged my batteries:

Stay tuned for more!