First sewing lesson!

I went to my first sewing lesson on Monday evening! We learnt the basics of how to use a sewing machine – how to do bobbins, how to thread the machine and then we practised how to use it. I had to have a few attempts before I was able to sew in a straight line. After we mastered that, we learnt how to do corners by pivoting the fabric with the needle in place and then continuing to sew. I made a little napkin

Next we were shown how to do two different types of hem: one is folded over twice so a little bit more bulky. The other one is folded over just the once but needs to be stitched along the raw edge first to prevent the fabric from fraying. A simple straight stitch is used to hem the fabric.

Now I think I am ready to move on to a dressmaking class! We will be making a lovely blouse by Colette but I have to wait until next Saturday for this… 😦 I am quite impatient at times and this seems like so far away, but I need to choose fabric for this class and no doubt I will be like a kid in a sweetshop! I have also ordered the Colette sewing handbook by the owner/designer of Colette Patterns, Sarai Mitnick, so I hope this comes soon! Lita lent me hers and it is such an easy book to follow, especially for someone who knows nothing about sewing! The pictures are great and Sarai provides tips on using sewing patterns, adjustments and choosing fabric. Plus there are 5 patterns included!

In the meantime I will carry on with the sweater I am making for Andy. There was a slight error in the pattern so I had to wait to hear back from the designer about this. Thankfully it didnt take long for them to get back to me and today I finished the body whilst watching Wimbledon! Here are some pictures of the sweater thus far:

 

Hopefully the arms wont take me too long to make as I am excited to get started on my next project!

Cx

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New Lanark Woollen Mill

I discovered this place online and as Andy and I were going through to Glasgow last weekend to meet up with Andys family, I thought we could take a quick detour to Lanark to pick up some new yarn. 

I spent Saturday morning looking for the perfect pattern for my next sweater (for me) and watching Trooping of the Colour. I love Kates dresses, maybe I will be able make some soon?? On my trawl through Ravelry I found lots of lovely cardigans that I would like to knit but a lot seem to have lace and I havent mastered/attempted this yet so will need to wait. For the meantime I have chosen http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/elbow-patch-cardigan. This pattern seems to be doable; I can do the rib and cables so I am off to good start. I dont like the idea of knitting elbow patches but I do like them so I think I will buy material and sew them on after.

Pattern in hand, off to Lanark we go! The quickest route using Google maps is cross country. I didnt really think about this and it probbaly would have been quicker to go via the M8. The weather was pretty wet and there was mist too so we couldnt really go fast on the country roads. As we didnt anticipate the journey taking so long to get there we only had 30mins to have a quick look around before we would need to leave to get to Glasgow on time for dinner. New Lanark is an old historic mill town and is really picturesque. I will need to visit again and spend more time there to explore.

Fortunately we managed to get the goods! I got a natural undyed100% wool yarn which I am pretty excited about knitting with. I must finish Guston first though! I also got a free shadecard which has a wee sample of all the colours of wool they sell. Pretty handy as Im never convinced about pictures online describing the colour of wool. Look at all those exciting colours!

We got to Glasgow on time and we went to Bo’vine on Byres Road and had a lovely evening.

This week I have definitely decided I would like to learn to sew. I have never really sewn anything so I am signing up to do a course on dressmaking. My mum took our sewing machine when my parents moved away from Glasgow so my friend Lita from work is going to lend me one until I get my mums one back. I am pretty excited about this new venture and have been picking out loads of patterns I would like to try!

So that is me finally up to date with all the things I have made thus far. I probably wont update as regularly now so that I can have something to show soon! I will investigate how to upload pictures to all my previous posts too!

Cx

Guston! (and the importance of blocking)

 

The name Guston reminds me of the big, muscly character from Beauty and the Beast! 

I am making this jumper for Andy as a wee thank you for trailing around Edinburgh to yarn shops! The pattern I am using is from a Canadian knitter and you can find it here http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/guston. Again the wool isnt my favourite but Andy wanted a machine washable jumper – I am using Patons wool bled DK. It is pretty easy to knit with though. 

I was very patient starting this project – I actually made a swatch to check my guage. (Thats a lie really, I had the wool left over from my dads hat and I thought it was the same but his wool was aran. Not to worry). After I made my swatch (which was half on one side, half on the other as I was clearly watching too much TV that night) I didnt block it. I didnt really understand the importance of blocking. 

I started the jumper almost two weeks ago and it is knitting up pretty fast. A week in I had finished the body (up to the dividing line before the pattern starts). I was gettiing a little bored going around and around and around! After this stage I put in a “lifeline” just in case I made  a mistake and would have to rip a few rows out. I hate ripping out rows as I can never be sure whether I have all the stitches back on and round the right way. I am so glad  I took the extra few minutes to put in a lifeline, which is just a scrap piece of yarn, as I had to rip it out 3 or 4 times before I was happy with it!

The other evening I made my first button hole! I found this pretty exciting as I was so sceptical beforehand. I used the k2, yarn over method. My button fits through too which is fantastic! So easily pleased!

I am now working my way up to the armholes where I will divide the jumper into fronts and backs. I am really pleased with it so far. The only problem is that it seems to be really big (Andy tried it on when I put in my lifeline). I am hoping it will shrink a little when I block it…

And so to blocking…

The pattern states that the garment should be blocked as seperate pieces before stitching together. I didnt understand what the difference would be if I stitched then blocked. Apparently blocking helps to loosen off the knitting, making it easier to see stitches. It also helps prevent the end from curling up. Also, if the pieces arent quite the same size one can be blocked larger so they fit. Im no where near that stage yet, so Ill put that dilemma off until nearer the time but from the advice I have had I think I will be blocking first, then sewing!

Cx

Fair Isle

I love Fair Isle!

The colours used are normally so vibrant and fun. And I have now discovered the fun of knitting Fair Isle.

I tried some little Christmas stockings to start with to get used to knitting with two colours. I found this pattern here and it is free so no excuses for not having a pretty Christmas tree: http://littlecottonrabbits.typepad.co.uk/photos/free_pattern/stockings6.html. These are really fun so I think I will make some more nearer to Christmas time to decorate the tree!

The hat I chose isnt strictly Fair Isle, but its a patterned hat which I guess covers the basic skills for learning to knit with two colours. I chose the Signe hat http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/signe-hat. Previous knitters commented that this hat was very big so I decided to only do 5 repeats (instead of 6). After spending ages in John Lewis debating which colours to go for, I chose duck egg and cream. I like both these colours, but now that I have finished Im not convinced! Ive not had a chance to wear it outside yet though so indoor photos only for now.

This was my first experience of using double pointed needles (dpn’s) and was a wee bit tricky to begin with! I got the hang of it eventually and hte hat looks good. The pattern didnt specify which method to use to decrease so I had to figure these out to ensure the ribs slant/slope the right way at the crown.

I really fancy making a jumper or socks using a Fair Isle Pattern so Im saving up lots of scrap yarn that I could maybe use for these. I dont really wear socks except in the house so I would prefer to make something I might wear more.

When I was in Poland a few years ago for Erasmus I ventured down to Zakopane. This is the mountainous region a couple of hours south of Krakow on the Slovakian border. There are lots of little market stalls and I found which which sells woolly items. There were lots of really cool socks so I decided to buy a few pairs to bring home with me. They were so cheap too – about 5zloty which converts to £1 a pair. Now that I knit myself I feel bad for paying so little now that I understand the time and effort that goes into a project. I wanted to bring socks home for Andy too but there were no sizes. The lady told me a wee trick of wrapping the sock around your fist and the heel should touch the toe. This is your size. I guessed Andys size would be bigger than my fist and they fit! I only wish I had bought a jumper too!

Cx

Progress

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After my (failed) attempt to make a hat, I decided I want to make something I could wear more often as I am not a big hat wearer and it is supposedly summer?! 

I met with Kristen who is an avid knitter and dressmaker from the States but living in Edinburgh. I actually met her online through Martina as I dont know many people who knit (yet). Kristen sent me a lovely email with loads of tips for new knitters and where to buy my materials. She also sent me a link to her blog, which has inspired me to make lots of lovely clothes! You can find her blog here http://kristenmakes.wordpress.com/.

For my next knitting project I chose the Short Row Jumper by the purlbee which Kristen had previously made (http://www.purlbee.com/short-row-sweater/). This pattern is supposedly easy for beginners; well, it is if you know how to wrap and turn! So I met up with Kristen, who happens to live round the corner, and we went to a little cafe nearby to knit. Such a relaxing Sunday morning! Kristen taught me how to do short rows and these are pretty easy actually. 

I am still working on this project though. It is a little boring as the jumper is stockinette stitch with ribbed edges. It has taken me a while to get through it but after 2/3 months it is almost complete. I just need to pick up stitches around the neck and rib, and then I need to do the same for the arms. However, I prefer Kristens version with little capped sleeves so will attempt this. This project has been a great learning curve; I have learnt short rows, kitchener stitch and three way bind off! All of these have been pretty simple to learn, mainly from knitting websites and youtube videos, but of course I must thank Kristen too for helping with all the problems I have encountered. I didnt concentrate fully when doing my kitchener stitch so it isnt perfect and forgot which way I way going, but it isnt noticble. 

I wanted to try something a little more fun in the meantime to get a knitting high of creating something. I was going to Oxford for a conference with work the following week and I thought that I could knit on the 6hour train journey from Edinburgh. I chose to make Andys hat and the pattern arrived the day before I left. I wanted to make this hat for my dad and had to adjust the pattern slightly to be sure it would fit! As it turned out, I couldnt learn the techniques in time so all was left behind and needless to say I was pretty bored during the journey. This is where I stayed in Oxford!

When I got home I practised decreasing and sewing a mini hat just to check I could do everything. It does have it uses as an egg cosy though…

I then moved on to the real deal.  This hat was really fun and only took two days to make.I picked a wool blend as I wanted the hat to be washable. My dad has made his own car from old Citroen 2CVs and it is pretty windy without a roof!

Cx

p.s. I have written this from memory and was around March/April time.

Where did it all begin?

Welcome to my blog! I’ve never blogged before so this is a new experience. Hopefully I will enjoy writing it as much as you enjoy reading about what I am up to.

So where did it all start??

I first learnt how to knit when I was a young girl (maybe about 10 or so). My granny was a great knitter and always had a project on the go. I think I learnt to knit before this occassion but I can’t really remember any details. We visited Granny every Sunday and I remember there were always knitting magazines lying about. After flicking through one, I found a pattern for Bagpuss! At that age nothing is ever too hard! My dad obliged and took me to Marjories wool shop on the South Side of Glasgow and I choose my wool. Obviously I wasn’t thinking practically and chose lovely fluffy wool which would be perfect for a soft toy. As soon as I started, it was an instant regret. The wool was too fluffy and I couldnt see what I was doing. Not to mention knitting with two yarns is not the easiest thing for a beginner! Probably a combination of being too ambitious and too impatient to actually knit anything is most likely why I gave up!

Fast forward a good few years…..

I have recently been reacquainted with knitting after my boyfriend Andy’s mum, got back into it too. She knitted Andy and his brothers lovely cable rib hats! They look amazing. (I will figure out how to upload photos soon!) These hats gave me the inspiration I needed to pick up my needles again. After a weekend in St. Andrews, I was hooked. I re-learnt all the basics again (knit, purl, increase, decrease, bind-off, cast- on, etc.) and on the way home to Edinburgh we made an emergency stop at John Lewis so I could continue with my new addiction.

I borrowed a Rowan pattern for a simple hat with a pompom. Nothing special and easy enough for a beginner. I thought I would make this hat for my mum and chose lovely Rowan tweed wool. After a few days I had my first hat! It was so exciting, until I tried it on… I didnt have a clue about gauge and how important it is so it ended up far too small! Sorry mum!

Well, thats how my journey into the wonderful world of knitting started! Since then I have progressed, thankfully, and will share these items soon. Please feel free to share your stories and memories of how you started knitting below.

Cx