Sunday, 28 October 2012

The Hooded Simon - a knitting pattern

Will I be shot by the Sun-lovers if I admit that I'm in trans-seasonal bliss right now? The temperatures are erring towards freezing and the clocks have gone back eliminating another hour of sunlight; there are still heaps of crispy Autumn leaves everywhere fresh for the frolicking, and still a week to go before all the fireworks and mulled wine and toffee apples... It is getting seriously cold though. Perfect timing, then, to make a start on this year's snood, or Simon, as I will from now on be calling them, thanks to Kathryn of Yes I Like That. Made from Toft's chunky alpaca yarn and 10mm circular needles, this guy was knit in an evening and a half and has been warming my scalp ever since. Here's how:

You will need:
Gauge: 10 stitches / 14 rows = 4"

Cast on 60 stitches. Being careful not to twist your stitches, join to work in the round.
Knit 6 rounds of garter stitch (knit one round, purl one round, repeat).
Knit approx 22 rounds of stockinette stitch (just knit rounds), or until your snood is as deep as you want it to be around your neck.
Next round: knit 17, purl 26, knit 17. This sets up the width/depth of the hood. To adjust, increase or decrease the number of knit stitches either side or the purls - and obviously decreasing/increasing the number of purls accordingly to keep the number of stitches in the round consistent. This hood was designed to sit perfectly on the head as in the picture, therefore I would advise against making the hood shallower.
Next round: knit.
Repeat the last 2 rounds twice more.
Next round: knit 20, bind off 20 stitches, knit 20.

Working the hood:

Now, still on the circular needles, but now working in rows knitting the hood back and forth:
Row 1: purl 37, knit 3.
Row 2: knit 37, purl 3.
Continue in this manner, repeating rows 1 & 2 until your hood reaches your desired length (mine is quite long - it's to hold all my hair, of which I have a lot).
End on a knit row - as if you were just about to begin another row of purls.

Closing the hood:

The best way to close the hood (in my opinion) is with the kitchener stitch: holding the needles together (wrong sides of the work facing), cut the yarn leaving a nice long tail (about 4 times the length of what you'll be stitching o be safe). Thread on a yarn needle and following this great video tutorial, close the hood with the kitchener stitch.

You could, alternatively, cast off at this point and with right sides together stitch the top of the hood closed, or cast off both sides of live stitches with a 3 needle bind off. Man, wouldn't it be fun to make knitting technique video demonstrations? But in a really fun (& still instructional) way...?

With the advantage of hindsight, next time I make this I will avoid the silvery grey colour... Let's face it - I'm reminding you a bit of a knight in a chain maille hood, am I right?? A super cosy knight, mind you.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Pre-menstrual sewing plans*

*Warning: this post is has a fundamentally feminine undertone. If you are a man, and you find 'time of the month' talk offensive/nauseating/unfathomable, look away now. Or, for a little insight into the workings of a pre-menstrual mind, keep reading...

As I mentioned in my interview at Stitch & Witter, I am one of those sewists whose self-stitched wardrobe is firmly rooted in "too much frosting, not enough cake" territory - a term so perfectly coined by Sewaholic's Tasia. Always planning to make more everyday appropriate attire, but so often getting distracted by delicious fabric and vintage patterns better suited to cocktail dresses. Kidding myself by thinking that the more silk skirts I make, the more I'll be encouraged to dress accordingly every day. So has this become my reality? Do I take my son to school wearing sheer tulle princess skirts? Do I swan about in Sainsbury's in floor sweeping dipped hem dresses? The answer my friends - and sorry if this comes as a disappointment - is no, I most certainly do not. In reality, I like to stay in my pyjamas for as long as is socially acceptable. And this desire to be as comfortable as humanly possible without being naked, is at no time more heightened than during that week. You know what I'm saying here - that week just before the painters set up camp in my uterus, I hate everything my wardrobe has to offer (except for my pyjamas). 

And so it was the other day, as I sat glaring at all the things I didn't want to wear, I decided I would, right there and then, make a list of things I'd be happy wearing whilst feeling my worst. This is it guys, my pre-menstrual sewing agenda - time to start stitching up some cake and give the frosting a rest.

First up, and keeping to the pyjamas theme, I've been meaning to make a pair of slouchy silk peg leg trousers for yonks. Soft and slinky, low slung and worn with a t-shirt and cashmere jumper... aaahh bloody bliss. I've yet to find a pattern so any suggestions would be most welcome, if not I'll be drafting up these babies myself.

like this but silk - image source

The next thing I always imagine myself reaching for on those grouchy mornings is a loose, swingy blouse in a bright happy fabric... and I think I've found just the thing in my new Japanese pattern book, Simple Chic

A recent online trip to Etsy left me completely smitten with Japan Lovely Crafts' selection of pattern books (and the completely adorable Nobuko who runs the shop), most of which seem to be designed with pre-menstrual women in mind! Easy wearing and slouchy, yet somehow clean and contemporary at the same time. I already had the perfect fabric for C-2: the small collar blouse, and am cutting as we speak:

I am a firm believer that a girl can never have too many knits, especially when cramps need nursing, but for someone who believes this so wholeheartedly, I have far too few. I am ashamed to admit that despite the fact that I have been knitting for five years (and crocheting for 20), I have only ever made myself one cardigan. Countless scarves, snoods, hats, baby things, mittens, socks etc etc etc... but only one cardigan. Right now I'm still struggling to finish a cabled jumper I started this time last year, but more about that later.

I wish I had the patience (and a few extra hours in the day) to embark on a project of such perfection as this swing jumper being knit right now by Heather Lou, but I know I'd be knitting it from now until forever so I'm thinking about cheating ever so slightly... what if I found some lovely chunky knit wool fabric and stitched up something along these lines:

image source

Oh, the coze.

Next up, and this kind of goes without saying, are a bunch of jersey tops. Another thing that one can never have too many of - and I already have a fair few of Dixie DIY's short sleeved swing tops. But it's pretty damn cold these days so I'm going to take one day of quiet over half term to churn out a few long sleeved tops; maybe I'll even get a chance to try out Dixie's brand new Hot Cocoa Sweater pattern (free to download here!). 

Lastly, and perfectly completing my 'period closet', I want to make a drapey jacket/cardigan type thing.  Two patterns have caught my eye: another from Simple Chic, and a sleeveless version from an old Burda:

Looking at them together now, I think I'll be going for the Simple Chic pattern - not only am I too lazy right now to draft a sleeve, but also I think the Burda pattern has a bit too much swing, lending it more of a maternity vibe. I have the perfect fabric for this in my stash too - a light and crisp, yet weighty linen - however it is a difficult shade of cornflour blue (what the hell was I planning to make with cornflower blue linen??)... but I plan to rectify that with some black dye. 

I'm feeling very excited about this list girls; finally a plan to make some bits that might see some real action for a change. Meanwhile I'm still reassuring my silk dresses and see-through skirts that the perfect party for them is coming real soon...

Thursday, 18 October 2012

My Handmade Style at Stitch and Witter

It's the moment I've been waiting for all week... 

A few months back I was bowled over when Joanne of Stitch & Witter - who's blog makes it to most of our Top 5's I'd wager - asked me to take part in a series of interviews discussing handmade style she was to be hosting on her blog. Bowled over that Joanne even thought of me, and even more over-bowled when I began to see the prestigious company I was in. Ever wondered about SallieOh's split style personality? Tilly's mantra? Zoe's secret obsession with Diner Waitresses? All these incredibly inspiring ladies and other blogging greats are represented in Joanne's 'My Handmade Style'. So you can imagine how smug I'm feeling right now. 

Swing on by to Stitch & Witter if you don't think you know enough about me already...!
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