Saturday, 30 May 2015

Results Time!

I'm on my hols this week so I'm scheduling a couple of posts to keep the blog warm while I'm away and hopefully I'll have lots of pictures of me knitting on a sunny beach (in England? HA HA HA!) when we get back.

It's taken me a while to finally get round to it, but here are the results of my survey from Blog Week.  I tried to find a better way to present them, but technology and I are apparently not on the same wavelength at the moment.  Anyhow the results are the same...

And, to me anyway, they are pretty interesting.

The first question was really just about my curiosity, I like to open my blog reader and catch up on my favourite blogs in the morning.  The kids are usually completely entranced bu their breakfasts and the latest adventures of Bing Bunny so I can get a bit of uninterrupted time with a cup of tea firmly in one hand and my iPad in the other.  I do dip in and out throughout the day, however, if I find myself at a loose end.  It seems that most people tend to do that too.

Questions 2 and 3 are really two sides of the same coin and it's really clear that the way you write has the power to attract and put off readers.  For a while now I have been stressing a bit about my photography, it's not my strong point and I've felt that it's been letting me down.  While it is something I will continue to work on, if I've taken the time to make something I want to represent in in the best way possible, it's not the be all and end all that I thought it might be.

Looking at what keeps people reading, it seems that people are equally drawn in by a blogger having a similar lifestyle or interests and the way in which they write.  Of course if that interest is the topic of the blog then that is probably a given, but I imagine we're talking about other interests, family situations. occupation, age etc.  At the same time people aren't necessarily turned off a blog just because the blogger leads a very different life to them, just more likely to keep reading if things seem familiar.  However, if your writing style is unappealing it looks like there is no way back from that, add to that the appearance of being clueless and you're done for!  These results were pretty heartening and actually do tally with the way I feel about the blogs I read, so it's nice to know I'm not weird in that way.  I hope my little survey has been interesting for you too.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Bank Holiday Weekend

It was a long weekend here this weekend, which is always welcome and which we put to good use.

Saturday was a bit gloomy so we mostly stayed indoors and I got loads of sewing done. I was working on Burda World of Fashion 2/2007 #123 and it basically all went horribly wrong from beginning to end! If I were to apportion blame I'd say it was 25% incomprehensible directions, 25% stupidity, 25% rushing to finish the stupid thing and 25% bad luck. Despite that it all came together pretty quickly, so it wasn't long before I discovered that it totally wasn't going to fit. As luck would have it though it totally fits my sister perfectly so I just need to hem it for her. I'll get some photos of her wearing it while we're on holiday next week, but for today the headless one is on modelling duty because it is way to big for me.

Sunday was a lovely day, rain had been forecast but it actually turned out to be a day of glorious sunshine. We were heading to the Chatham Maritime Food & Drink Festival so we were really pleased that the weather turned out so nice. We met up with family, ate some really nice food and the girls had a really nice play time courtesy of one of the local nurseries.

When we got home I got a good start on another jersey dress before making a (very light!) dinner for us all.

On Monday we had an appointment at the bank, which is only noteworthy because we had an appointment at the bank on a bank holiday. The clue is in the name bank people, take a day off! I spent the rest of the day finishing up my dress, which thankfully turned out really nicely. I've just cut out the bits for a second one so I think this pattern deserves its own post, but here's a sneaky peak for today.

I love it when things go right!



Wednesday, 20 May 2015

What's WIPing and a new challenge

Not much new is happening on the crafting front here at the moment, I'm either plodding along on the same projects or in the preparation stages of new ones.

In knitting, I'm nearing the home straight on my Nathalie. I've finished the main body, which is great news because it was starting to get a bit unwieldy. I've just got the sleeves left, which I will probably do two at a time just to be sure they're the same length. I'd been worrying a bit about the size of this thing, it's always looked sort of massive, although I think it is because the lace part sort of crumples up when you wear it and takes up less space than it seems. I thought it was time to put Headless Hannah to good use and pinned it on her and see what I thought.

Not bad huh? Roomy, but not enormous. I'm happy with that.

In sewing, Cassie's little hat hasn't really had much of a look in. I finally got the hat top and sides of the lining to come together in a way I was happy with but I keep catching my eye on less fiddly projects. I really should get on with it though because we're heading off on our holidays in a couple of weeks and it would be nice for her to have it. We're staying in England though, so maybe I should be making her a raincoat!

I'm also just about to start cutting out for my first proper overlocker project which is a jersey dress from an old Burda mag (2/2007 to be precise). It's taken me a while to get round to tracing it because the pattern pieces are much bigger than my table and I'm too lazy to deal with that sort of nonsense, on top of which I need to add seam allowances. I do like a lot of the patterns in the Burda mags, but sometimes I wonder why I do this to myself!

And finally, in addition to all this I'm also preparing for the upcoming Outfit Along, which is basically a challenge to knit an item of clothing and sew another to make up an outfit. If you fancy taking part head to either of the blogs in the banner above or the Untangling Knots Ravelry group. I've already cut the pieces for a muslin for a dress and I'll be swatching for a cardigan soon. I'll share the details once I know whether my chosen patterns are a go. The fun starts at the beginning of June!


Monday, 18 May 2015

FO: Burda Style 3/2014 #115

What's this? As if posting every day for the last 7 days wasn't enough, I'm back for more? It's true! Partly it's because I've got into the habit now, but mostly it's because I haven't been idle while blog week was going on and I have an FO. Firstly though, a big thanks to everyone who participated in blog week, either by posting or by reading or commenting. It was a really fun week, the focus was a lot more on us as people this year so I really feel like I've got to know you all better. Right, crashing on....

Is this thing on?

I made jeans!

Not particularly well fitting or spectacularly cool jeans

But jeans nonetheless. I'm viewing these as one in a series, leading me up to a perfect pair. The pattern, from last March's Burda Mag, has been on my to make list for ages. It's the sewing lesson pattern, which means that the instructions are considerably better than usual, although there were still a few headscratchers in there. I took my usual approach of following them as far as I could and googling anything that was unclear. The front fly being a particular example, although I'm still a little unhappy with that.

So, bad news first, things that need improving for next time:

  • My sad frowny crotch, the length and depth need fiddling with.
  • My knees. A lot of my jeans have baggy knees so this isn't a surprise. I removed about 3" from the length but I think I need to look more carefully about where I need to take it from
  • The fly. It went in easily but the zip pull shows a bit so I need to be more careful next time
  • The waistband. Just ugh. This was my second waistband as the first one was too short and I think I'd lost the will to live before sewing on the second one.
  • The buttonhole. Let's just not talk about it.

Good stuff!

  • I made jeans!
  • The insides look great. I got to take my overlocker for a spin and I loves it. Finishing seams is so fast now!
  • The length is pretty spot on.
  • I'm really pleased with my pockets and top stitching. I only did one row of top stitching, I'll add a second next time.
  • They didn't take me very long at all. I'm definitely starting to find this whole sewing thing a bit easier now.

I'm counting these as a win overall, most of the issues can be covered with a long tshirt, except for the kness but as discussed I often have baggy knees so no one will notice! They're pretty comfortable so they'll be perfect for work and kicking around with the kids....speaking of whom, I'll leave you today with the the biggest pout in the South East, this child cracks me up!

It's MY broom!


Sunday, 17 May 2015

Day Seven: Your Time, Your Place

Where and how do you take time out to knit and/or crochet? Maybe you don’t take time out at all and instead have your needles twirling as you try to juggle a multitude of other tasks with no ‘spare’ time to think of. Maybe you enjoy nothing more than to crochet whilst winding down from a yoga session, chatting with some friends in a nearby cafe.

Whether social or solitary, tell readers about your crafting time and space, and where you either most enjoy (or can simply find a few snatched moments) to turn yarn into something even more beautiful.

I think that the timelapse videos that I shared on Friday tells you pretty much all that you need to know about where and when I do my knitting. Essentially I just keep a project close to hand, but safely out of reach, so that when I spot an opportunity I can just go for it. Sometimes I only get a few stitches done before one little girl or the other desperately needs me right now this second, but often I'm very lucky and they play nicely together for large stretches of time.

Excuse the bum butterfly, we're potty training!

Now that the weather is starting to improve I'm looking forward to a spot of outdoor knitting. On Fridays my parents look after my girls in the morning while I work and then I join them for the afternoon. It's nice to sit in the garden, watch the kiddies play and knit, knowing that there are other people around to keep an eye out for toddler shenanigans if I get too engrossed in my stitches.

When the girls are not home, or Stu is home to keep an eye on them, I usually take the opportunity to do a bit of spinning or sewing. Knitting I can easily do with them around but the spinning wheel is too much of a temptation for them and I don't need them anywhere near the iron. We've pretty much turned the dining room into a bit of a craft nook, with a healthy dose of junk that doesn't fit anywhere else, but it's a reasonable little space and I appreciate not having to put everything away at the end of every session.

Although I don't always get as much uninterrupted time for making as I'd like I'm frequently surprised by how productive I can be. I mostly knit projects stitch by stitch rather than row by row, but I've accepted this and if I waited until I was sure I could complete a complete row then I would never finish anything. Picking my needles up, even if I just knit one stitch, is far more productive than never picking them up at all. I'm sure there's some kind of life lesson in that, but I'm just here to talk about knitting!


Saturday, 16 May 2015

Day Six: Polls Apart

Almost every blogging platform offers a way to easily put together and host a poll, and polls, surveys and questionnaires can be a great way of engaging with your audience and readership. There are times when readers do not feel that they want or have time to think, compose and post an answer or response to a post, but short polls can often be completed with just a few clicks.
Importantly, survey findings and poll results can give bloggers an absolutely wonderful source of information to blog about. Whether you are looking at basic statistics of the percentage of knitters, crocheters and those who enjoy both or the results of a more opinion-led set of questions, you will be gathering a greater understanding of your readers and may find out some surprising results.
Much as I was tempted to have a bit of fun today and ask frivolous questions about what your favorite toast topping are (because toast is very important!), I feel like I would be missing a golden opportunity to find out a bit about people's blog reading habits.  Let's go!

Friday, 15 May 2015

Day Five: Something a Bit Different

It’s the annual challenge to blog in a way different to how you normally blog. You may choose to create a podcast, or vlog, create a wordless post, a beautiful infographic or write in verse. You can post on any topic you like, but be sure to post in a style different from your usual blog presentation. There’s not too much guidance for this one simply because the more varied the posts are on this day, the wider the sources of information for other bloggers will be.

I had the idea for this a while back and was really pleased because I'm normally trying to think what to do for this topic right up to the last minute. I'm really pleased that it actually fits in nicely with Day 7 when we'll be looking at the spaces which we knit in. Using the time lapse option on my iPad camera I pressed record to capture what happens when I sit down to knit. I took a few videos over the course of a few days and here are a couple of them.

Timelapse5 from Hannah Smith on Vimeo.

Timelapse4 from Hannah Smith on Vimeo.
In future I'd like to capture me knitting a small project like this, it would be so so fun to watch it grow before my eyes. I'll definitely have to wait until the girlies are out though, if you've just watched my videos I'm sure you can understand why!

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Day Four: Bags of Fun

Time to delve into that most treasured collection of tools notions and oddments as you are asked to spill the contents of your knitting or crochet bag, caddy of other method of organisation and put your crafting unmentionables on display.

As someone who struggles to keep WIPs to a minimum I, of course, have a collection of project bags in use at any one time.  I like to think of them as a little family, made up of different shapes and sized and all useful for different things.  Not only do their contents vary wildly from bag to bag, but also from project to project as I empty out everything I needed for the previous project and begin anew when I cast on again.  Most will contain a tape measure, all the needles I'll need and as much of the yarn for the project as will fit.

  1. KnowKnits Goknit Pouch, my primary sock bag.  Has useful poppered loops for keeping the yarn in check and attaching to belt loops.  Starting to get a bit worn now.
  2. Handmade sock bag, unlined so the needles poke through, probably needs replacing. 
  3. Handmade sock bag, this one is lined and is actually quite nice.
  4. Bag for smaller projects that are larger than socks.  Good for hats, gloves, cowls and shawls.  This one alone contains permanent bits and bobs because it is quite fiddly to open and close so there's little danger of the kids getting in there and getting hold of my scissors and stitch markers.  Sooo many pointy things and choking hazards in this bag!
  5. Large project bag.  Another handmade bag, it even has wadding in it to make it stand up nicely and to minimise needle pokeage.  I can fit a sweater and all of the yarn in here and I'm quite happy to fling it behind the sofa when the kids are getting grabby because everything stays nice and snug in there.  This one is also quite tricky to open due to the wholly unsuitable ribbon I chose for a drawstring (it's a string that really doesn't draw) so it's quite secure.
While I don't actually keep much in my project bags, I keep this little box of tricks close to hand....well on a high shelf nearby really.  I got this for a few quid off Amazon and really it has pretty much everything in it that I like to have to hand.  The only things I added were one of the little key thingys for my interchangeable needles and a yarn ring for colourwork.  It doesn't have a tape measure because I threw that away.  Much as I was tempted to keep a tape measure that had inches that were actually an inch and a half and we all have days where that would cheer us up I'm sure, it seemed irresponsible to keep it around in case it got used by mistake!

So despite having a multitude of bags on the go at once, I'm actually realising I'm more organised than I thought.  Go me!

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Day Three: Experimental Photography and Image Handling for Bloggers

I often struggle with this topic, photography is not my strong point and the places I have to take photos are a bit rubbish.  So with that in mind I thought I would take some of my old project photos and have a little fun.

Meet Thomas Waghorn, postal pioneer and resident statue near the train station in my home town of Chatham.  Poor old Thomas is one of those unfortunate statues who is wearing a traffic cone on his head more often than he isn't.

Maybe he'd like a nice woolly hat instead, this one is sort of cone shaped so it shouldn't feel like too much of a departure.

Or how about a balaclava shaped like a chili?

Ooh, now this one is definitely you, Mr Waghorn!

Hmm, maybe not, but that was far too much fun and with my new photo messing skills I will totally be sending my knits around the world before too long.  Watch this space!

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Day Two: It's All About You

This year you are challenged with one of those tasks that some bloggers can find quite daunting: but there's never a better time then when we are all in it together, so lets shift the focus and turn the attention from the things we make to the things that make us.

While I'm sure that there will be a few people who won't relish this topic, I have absolutely no problem with waffling on about myself without having to pretend that I've done something creative to warrant it! To be honest I decided it would probably be harder to know where to stop rather than where to start so I've just picked 5 little factoids about moi and I'll leave it at that...and because it's all about me I'm illustrating the whole thing with a series of selfies. Sorry (sort of)!
1. I'm a 'working stay at home mum'.During the day time I am really lucky that I get to stay home and hang out with my girlies. I love that I get to be with them all day and rarely miss a thing. They are really great company and they teach me so much every day. At 3:30pm Stu comes home, has a shower and takes over and I head out the door to do my evening shift as a library assistant at the nearby university. I love my job, my colleagues and the library itself is pretty cool. Working evenings can suck a bit, there's nothing like getting to work just as everyone else is knocking off, but at least they are always all pleased to see me! It's totally worth it to not be paying for childcare and the fact that we both take responsibility for childcare in this way means that we really appreciate what the other does.
2. I loves me a bit of geeky entertainmentWhen I'm not knitting I'm thinking about knitting, but when I am knitting there is nothing I like better than sticking a good bit of sci fi to keep my eyes busy while my fingers work. Somehow it makes me feel better about sitting down and watching hours and hours of telly (I think the phrase binge watch was invented with me in mind) if I have something to show for it. Now if only someone can find a way for me to knit and play video games at the same, then my life will be complete!
3. I have a BA in Archaelology and Classical Studies.If I could send my consciousness back in time I would love to have done something more creative or even sciencey, but old stuff is cool and my studies were interesting if not terribly useful in my life so far. I love Greek & Roman mythology, some of the stories are so ridiculous or gruesome that they are hard to forget, super useful at exam time. I think that I would have enjoyed university whatever I studied, it was a really fun time of my life, if only I could remember more of it!
4. My life is incomplete without hot buttered toast.Obviously my husband and kids etc are way more important, but it turns out that buttered toast is way up on the list of things that I cannot happily live without. In an attempt to stop my gallstones from trying to kill me I ended up on a fat free diet from October of last year until I finally got my gallbaldder removed in February. It was soooo hard and there was a lot of food that I missed, but not being able to butter my toast took me to a very dark place. I was actually looking forward to my surgery because I knew that they would bring me tea and toast with proper butter on afterwards. When I had my first scheduled operation cancelled after I'd actually arrived at the hospital I was absolutely devastated because I'd woken up thinking that by the end of the day I would have got my toast! Two weeks later I finally got my post op tea and toast and all has been well ever since.
5. Talking about myself without mentioning my knitting is weird....So I won't! In ordinary circles the fact that I knit and spin and sew is generally met with surprise and is something that kinda makes me interesting. Despite a resurgence of these types of hobbies it is definitely an unexpected thing that makes me a bit different from others and sort of defines me in some ways. It's cool, but is definitely a reason why I love reading craft blogs and hanging out on Ravelry. It's great to mix with other people who obsess about the same things that I do and feel the same way as I do about creating things. I look forward to opening my blog reader every morning and seeing a load of new posts and when blog week rolls round every year I add more blogs with great keep at it guys, I can't wait to see what you all make next!

Monday, 11 May 2015

Day One: If You Were Yarn

If you were a type or brand of yarn, which would you be? Are you a classic pure wool? Is there extra tension but a bit of bounce in you because of your high twist? Would you be more like a high-maintenance, strictly hand-wash fluffy angora or a ‘bring it on’ acrylic, bravely heading into the world of possible baby-sick laundering disasters knowing that you will always come out bright and unharmed?
Since learning to spin I have become much more aware of different types of fibres and their properties and how that changes the way in which I spin them. I have fibres that I LOVE and fibres that I will never be working with again but I've never really given much thought to whether any of them represent me in any way.
And, in fact, I still haven't given it much though because I immediately thought of one particular skein of yarn in my stash and the decision was made. It's a handspun, spun by my own fair hand, not the best example of my work but somehow just very much 'me'.
This yarn is a total mongrel, a quick sift through my Etsy receipts tells me that the batts I it was spun from contained 8 different types of fibres, some of them with multiple colours.
I think that the sheer amount of stuff in this yarn was a big reason why I immediately chose it. Like most people I am not one thing, I am a mish mash of complementary and clashing qualities that all come together to make me. The manner of spinning was also a big influence too. Essentially I just sat down at mt wheel with my batts and let them become whatever they became, no plan in mind. What I ended up with was think and thin, dull then bright, twisty then soft and strong then delicate. This means that the weight is difficult to classify and the WPI is just an average, it refuses to be pigeonholed. A bit like a lot of people I'm sure, but definitely like me. I like to look a bit different every day,wearing different styles of clothes and wearing my hair differently. I'm scruffy one day, neat the next, some days I like rainbows and bright colours other days I'm all about black and ripped jeans and studded belts. There's always eyeliner though, just like my yarn with it's 2nd ply of shiny black thread.
Like me, my yarn isn't sure what it wants to be when it grows up. The perfect pattern hasn't shown up yet but it's not stressing. I like to take each day as it comes and see where I end up, there's no master plan, I'm just going about being me and trying my best in all that I do. Maybe I'll never knit this yarn, maybe it never wants to become anything more than what it is....and I'll be completely down with that.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

FO: Simplicity 1413

As promised yesterday I have an FO for you. Simplicity 1413, a simple shirt for boys and men made in delightful disco colours for Miss Cassie.

Making things for Cassie is a total joy these days, she gets so excited when I finish things for her and she wears them with such pride. She's also a total pro and recognising handmade things, she can spot a pair of handknitted socks from 29 paces, it's very impressive!

On the whole the construction of this shirt gave me very little trouble. The fabric had been hanging around in the stash for a long time so I forgot I hadn't prewashed it so the pieces all shrunk a little when I got a hot iron on them. I just made sure after the first incident of "aargh, these pieces don't match!!" that I pressed all the bits until they all shrunk and the shirt is still a little large so no harm done. Aside from that and my machine throwing a bit of a fit about sewing buttonholes through a couple of layers of fabric and interfacing it all went pretty smoothly.

I think this will be a really lovely garment for the summer and I'm sure I'll be making her another before long. The pattern is for boys so I'll be sure and pick some nice girly fabric, especially as she's going through a bit of a princess phase. I'll also put the buttons on the girl side too next time as I'm finding fastening them quite awkward.

In other news, I'm still feeling pretty rough although Felicity did do me the favour of sleeping through the night last night so I have had a good sleep. Going back to work tonight after the long weekend is going to be haaaaard though. Boo.


Monday, 4 May 2015

Happy Birthday to meeeee!

I actually have an FO I should really be blogging about for today, but I can't really be bothered because today is my birthday. Yay! I've actually had a miserable few days, we've all had really horrible colds so I've not really been in the mood to celebrate. I made a special effort to be more chipper today though so that we didn't just all sit around and mope for the day.

I got up sooooper early, thanks to Lissy who then promptly went back to sleep and left me wide awake so I had a couple of hours of blissful peace and quiet before everyone else got up. I made a cuppa and caught up on Mad Men and Game of Thrones whilst doing a little bit of relaxing colouring in.

This afternoon, with the girls safely out of the way with their aunts and uncle, Stu and I got some lunch, did a bit of shopping and then went to see Avengers: Age of Ultron. Datetastic!

Gift wise I feel like the luckiest lady alive right now. Stu arranged for my whole family to club together and I got an overlocker and a dress form. Due to some admin nonsense we were actually sent two dress forms and no overlockers so I'm still waiting for my new machine, but me and the new lady in my life have been getting acquainted.

I've totally eaten way too much today and I still feel really poorly, but it's been a good day and I couldn't ask for more :)