Wednesday, 30 March 2011

What Colours Go With Pale Green?

I know it looks like something you would make into little boy's pyjamas, but I couldn't resist this fabric, so bought some with the intention of making the blouse below (the one on the left in red):

My dilemma is this : I don't really know what colours go with pale green, therefore I'm going to be rather limited in what I will be able to wear the finished blouse with. I have some denim pedal pushers which will be fine, and a few reliable black pencil skirts, but that feels a bit limiting. So I'll probably end up making something new, like another skirt, to go with this top. My husband suggests purple, but he always says that, because it's his favourite colour! Does anyone out there have any ideas?

On a different note, I included the detail above from the instructions inside the pattern because I love the line drawings - I think they are things of beauty! I'm one of those weird people that can sit and read vintage knitting and sewing patterns the way other people read novels, and I'm often filled with awe at the way they were formulated without the use of computers, or probably any technology, other than rulers and pencils, and the experience of those writing them. And there are never any credits - who were they?

Anyway, here's to 'em, because without them I'd have many of empty hours and a much poorer wardrobe!

Monday, 28 March 2011

I'm In Love With This Wool

After my recent successes with knitting, I decided to move on to something a bit more ambitious. I found this gorgeous extra fine 4-ply while on a trip to Edinburgh last year, by a company called Artesano. I bought a few balls with absolutely no idea what I would do with it - I just liked it too much to pass by. I tried a few attempts at some gloves, but it wasn't really right; it's an Alpaca wool, and and therefore a bit 'hairy' and hard to work with on fine needles.

After a few tension tests, I realised it would knit up the same as a 2 or 3-ply. Woo hoo! That meant I could make up one of my many vintage patterns. I decided on this beauty (the one on the top left) because it didn't seem too difficult:

Progress has been good so far - it's pretty quick to knit up, and there is a lovely lace pattern around the neck.

The work looks really narrow on the needles - I was worried it would be too small and all my efforts would go to waste! - but the design is such that it stretches around the figure.

And make sure you check out Artesano. According to their website, they are a small family business, who support socially conscious wholesalers, which is cool. They even have some free patterns to download on their website, one of which has a Scandinavian feel:

If I get time, I might actually knit this in tribute to my favourite program, 'The Killing'!

Friday, 18 March 2011

7 Things

Sometimes, I can be sooooo lazy! All the way back in January the lovely Psycho Sue at Sew Misunderstood very kindly awarded me the Stylish Blogger award, and I'm only now getting around to honouring the conditions (so shameful...), which are:

1)Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this award.
2)Share 7 things about yourself.

3)Award 10 recently discovered bloggers.

4)Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award.

So here are my 7 facts:

1 - I live in England, but I'm actually American! I was born in San Francisco, and grew up in a little town just outside called Fairfax (pop. approx 7,000 - very sleepy). Long story short - Mexican-American Mum bitten by the Beatlemania bug, went off to Engalnd in early 60's, met my English Dad, got married, came back to San Francisco in late 60's just for the hell of it, had a family, but became really home sick for Europe, so the whole family came back here in 1985, when I was 14. We've been here ever since. I sort of pick and choose when I'm English and when I'm from the States. But I recently visited San Francisco, and felt very at home......

2 - The first band I had a major crush on was A Flock of Seagulls. There, it's out, and I don't care what anyone says. I thought they were great, and 'I Ran' is a great song. (Look it up on Youtube, kids).

My all time favourite band is the Cramps; there's hardly a day goes by when I don't listen to one of their songs. RIP Lux.

A recent unnecessary purchase...
3 - I really like Hello Kitty. Is this wrong for a married woman?

Hula hooping in a nightclub while drinking beer- the secret to a healthy lifestyle!
4 - I'm a lapsed hula hooper. I used to do it daily, to keep my waist trim, and it's just really fun. But I haven't done any since Christmas; it's hard to motivate myself during the short, cold days. I'm determined to start again soon.

5 - I'm obsessed with 'The Killing' on BBC 4. For those of you not aware of this show, seek it out- it's brilliant.  And don't let the fact it's in Danish put you off; it IS worth the effort. I might even knit a sweater like the one the lead character, Sarah Lund, wears, as a tribute to her, because there aren't enough realistic intelligent women on TV. (Now I just sound mental......)

6 - I don't have a Facebook page, or a Twitter account, or an i-phone. It seems like I'm the only person in the universe with out these things. I'm not a tecnophobe, I just don't have the time. I just about find time to do this blog.

7 - I can't stop buying hooped earrings, little cardigans, and striped tops. They just always work - well, anyway, that's what I think. I think the goat in this picture had other ideas.

It was very hard, as I love all the blogs I follow, but here are my most recent fabulous discoveries:

Misfits Vintage
Tales of a San Francisco Shutterbug
This Old Life
Vintage Vixen
Penny Dreadful Vintage
That Vintage Broad
Tickety Boo Tupney
The Dandyman Can
Dial V for Vintage
Miss Peelpants

In the words of Patricia Neal in 'Breakfast at Tiffany's', they're all very stylish girls. (Except for the Dandy Man, who gives Cary Grant a run for his money, I'm sure)

Sunday, 13 March 2011

A New Hat From Old

Ah, the good old days, when you could torment animals in the name of fashion. I was walking around in the freezing cold when I spied this photo in Bates Hat Shop on Jermyn St, London. It inspired me to look for some smart head gear to keep out the cold winter winds. I often suffer from ear ache and head colds, due to the fact I always choose fashion over practicality, but I'm tired of woolly hats and berets for the time being, and fancy something more grown up, like this:

Something jaunty and mysterious like this:

But I want to spend as little as possible! Modern hats are either awful, or way too expensive, so I'm going to attempt to re-block an old hat, something my Mum has done to several old hats with great results.

Off to Brick Lane, where I found a pile of great hats in The Shop on Cheshire St. I found this one for the princely sum of £7.00!

It's not bad on its own, but doesn't quite have that grown-up mysteriousness I'm aiming for. First, I decided the crown needed reshaping into something with a more masculine shape. In order to re-shape it, I'm going to need a form for the head, and a steam iron. As I don't have a proper mannequin head, I improvised with a towel:

Because felt is essentially just wool chopped up and held together with glue, it can be re-shaped with heat and steam. This hat is a fairly basic, sturdy felt, and will withstand the heat from the iron.

Using lots of steam, I pressed the point of the iron into the crown, and squeezed the sides up and around to form a pointed shape.

Not bad! Next, the brim. It's shape is still too girly, and it seems to be held in place with something. After playing around with it, I realised there was a wire sewn into the edge, which I promptly removed:
This made the brim flatten out a little bit more, but still not enough. I applied more heat and steam, at the same time pulling a little bit to make it even flatter:

Finally, I finished it all off with some spray starch, so that the shape held.

The finished result:

No more cold ears for me!

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

At Last! A Completed Knitting Project I'm Happy With

When I'm not sewing, I'm almost always knitting. But rarely do I complete a project, because I'm so impatient I can't BEAR the amount of time it takes, and I'm never happy with the results. But I just made the easiest, quickest shrug ever, and for once, I really like it! That's me looking really pleased with myself, and below is the original:

How scrawney are her arms!?!? I think that's why I hardly ever complete any knitting, because it never looks like the picture, and I'm a much curvier shape than most of the models, so I'm ultimately really disappointed. Also, most of the patterns I want to try out call for 2 and 3 ply yarns, which I've always found hard to source, so I end up improvising with thicker weights, which never work out. I know there are some experienced knitters out there, who must have come across this dilemma - do you have any recomendations for alternative wools?

That said, I did improvise with this one, and it worked out fine. The pattern recommended 2 or 3 ply wool, but used double. I used Debbie Bliss Cashmerino double knitting, and it worked out great.

Here are some close up pictures:

See you soon!