Wednesday, 27 February 2013

February Festivities

February is a big month in the Needles household - we both celebrate our birthdays, as well as our wedding anniversary. Add Valentines day on top of that, and you get about 10 days of celebrations. This year, as we're having a new bathroom fitted which drains funds (Ha! Ha!), I took a couple weeks off work and spent most of it knitting and sewing, as well as watching copious amounts of T.V. It was bliss!

Firstly, I finished Mr Needle's Hot Rod Sweater:

Then I made these gloves out of some wool I had from a previously abandoned project:

Free pattern here

Next, I made a pair of mittens with flaps, as I needed use of my fingers, but also the option to keep warm!

And finally, I've started this sweater, which I'm about one third of the way through, again made from wool from a previously abandoned cardigan:

from 'the Knitter' Magazine
After all of this knitting, I finally got round to properly setting up my Ravelry account:

It wasn't all knitting - I've started on a new dress for work, from a pattern I've had for nearly 20 years, but have only got round to making now:

I see it in black twill, with a black satin Peter Pan collar and a black satin bow detail in the centre front. Believe it or not, but I'm in charge of about 15 people at work, and certain outfits make me feel more confident in my role - I don't think anyone will mess with me in this dress!

I did venture out into the fresh air for a bit, namely to Manchester to visit friends and buy fabric from one of my favourite fabric stores, Abakhan's. Here's what I got for a total of £18, about £3 per meter - bargain! -

From left to right - a wool mix tartan, a cotton horse shoe print, some polyester lining for the dress above, and some Alexander Henry cotton
So I've got plenty to be getting on with - see you soon!

Friday, 15 February 2013

More Sewing Inspired Jewellery

First there was the Sewing Machine charm necklace by Juicy, then the Tatty Devine - inspired Measuring Tape Rosettes. Now, I present to you - the Bobbin Necklace:

This piece was inspired by a necklace I recently saw by Sakdidet Road, a Scandinavian (I think?) jewellery firm, who make a similar version in brass, but I prefer silver jewellery. After a visit to the plumbing section of the local hardware store for the chain (£1.50) and Beadworks for the clasp (£1.20) - hey presto! - I had a new piece of jewellery to declare my love of sewing to the world!

 Take care!

Monday, 11 February 2013

Knitting for Men - the Hot Rod Sweater

I love knitting. I love knitting hats, scarves, gloves, and other small projects that only take a couple of balls of wool and can be finished quickly. Even better, I like knitting 'in the round' because less sewing is involved. But when it comes to knitting actual garments to wear, I'm pretty hopeless. I can't begin to count how many jumpers and cardigans I've started and then unravelled because I just got bored with them.

This was nearly the case with a jumper I started knitting for Mr Needles back in August. But after lots of fits and starts (it took at least 6 tries before I was happy with the colourwork on the sleeves), I finally finished it. And here it is!

The pattern was from 'Stitch 'n Bitch Nation' by Debbie Stoller, the woman behind 'Bust' magazine in the US, and who helped kick the crafting movement up a gear. 

 This book is one of several she's written, such as 'The Stitch 'n Bitch Handbook'  and 'The Happy Hooker', (it's about crochet - get your minds out of the sewer!) Even though not many of the patterns are to my liking, the instructions and technique diagrams are great, and I love that she took a craft like knitting and put a feminist spin on it.

Here's a close-up of that troublesome, yet ultimately satisfying colourwork:

 The red flame was added using an intarsia technique, then the yellow was added using Swiss darning, where you embroider the colour on the finished piece.

And here's the man himself wearing it:

As well as the jumper, he's sporting a fancy sling on his left arm, the result of slipping over in the recent snow!

One thing I realised making this jumper is that knitting mens garments is so much easier than ladies - hardly any shaping, not too many fiddly patterns (except for the colours in this case), just big square shapes. And Mr Needles is one of those 'always cold' people, so I expect more handknits will be coming his way!

Friday, 1 February 2013

The Eye-kea Skirt

I've always had a love/hate relationship with Ikea. You get out to that big blue and yellow box by the freeway, get all lost and disoriented, then dazzled by all that clever Scandinavian design, and next thing you know you're dragging a bunch of unnecessary furniture and soft furnishings back to your house, in my case usually on public transport. I have difficulty avoiding clutter in my home, and I don't want to subject my interiors to the whims of fashion - when I buy a sofa or a table, I intend for it to last a long time. And shopping at Ikea goes against my belief in supporting small, independent businesses - I feel like I'm selling out to 'the man'. (I'll never shake off my 70's San Francisco upbringing...)

But every now and then I have to succumb. I really needed to replace the curtains for the bay window in my living room. They're huge windows; if I bought the fabric from some of the local fabric shops it would have set me back close to £100 (approx $150 USD). But buying the fabric at Ikea was only going to cost me about £50-£60. I was going to have to live with it.

As is usually the case with Ikea, I didn't just buy the curtain fabric. In fact I was pretty impressed with the fabric selection, and found it hard to resist buying stacks of it. I did treat myself to this:
Vannerna Titta, £9 for 3m (source)
 It's meant for a childs bedroom curtains or cushions, but I immediately saw it's Dali-esque appeal:

The Eye, Salvador Dali, 1945

Which inspired me to create this:

That's me doing a 'surrealist' pose

 It's not the first time I've made something and then had to think later about how to work it into my wardrobe. With this skirt I decided that the best look was a 50's musical beatnik look as seen in films like 'Funny Face' and 'The Rebel'.

Audrey Hepburn going beatnik in 'Funny Face'

Nanette Newman in 'The Rebel'

 I admit it's a bit freaky; I wanted to debut it recently at a christening, but Mr Needles quite rightly said it might scare the children! 

The skirt only used about 1.5m, leaving me another 1.5m to play with (the fabric is sold in ready cut pieces of 3m). Probably enough to line an upcoming jacket project - stay tuned!