disappointed but not discouraged

Followers, who have been with me for a while, might remember that I started knitting a sweater way back in May 2017.  Was it really that long ago?  Yes, I’m afraid it was!

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Despite growing up with both a grandma and a mother who were expert knitters, knitting isn’t something I ever took to as a child.  If I’m honest, I didn’t take to any needlecrafts as a child.    I learned the basics of knitting, but never actually made anything, other than scarves.  I suppose it was because my grandma and mother were expert knitters actually!  They could knit up a gorgeous sweater or caridgan in half the time it took me to cast on the correct amount of stitches . . . so I grew up letting them knit for me instead.

Anyway, in May last year, I decided I wanted to give knitting a whirl, but didn’t want to go spending lots of money on supplies until I knew whether I enjoyed it or not.  Hence the first project, begun with a free pattern (by Red Heart) and a cheap job lot of acrylic DK yarn.  Things progressed quite quickly at first, and I soon had a back & front.

knitting front and back

Then I did what you should never do.  I bunged everything in a bag and forgot about it, for a whole year!  Yep, a full 12 months went by until, last week, I was browsing through my photo archives . . . realised how long this sweater had been in the making.  And got back to work.

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And now, it is finished – yay!

Now the reason I am “disappointed but not discouraged” is . . . the fit of this sweater (and my choice of colours, I’ll admit).  The pattern only had 3 sizes (S,M, L) and, at the time I began knitting, the L seemed a good size for me.  However, since it took me over 18 months to make, and I’ve put on so much weight in the last year . . . the end result is far too snug.   I measured the finished sweater, wondering if it was my knitting/tension which was the culprit, but nope, I’m spot on.  I’ve made a sweater in a perfect size L.   It’s me.  I need a size XL .

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It looks more or less like the photo on the pattern:  3/4 length sleeves, sort of slash neckline, body length corresponds.   But I’d feel more comfortable in something a little less snug.  Husband reckons the 3/4 sleeves were a bad idea and that it makes the sweater look like it shrunk in the wash.  I’m afraid I agree with him.  3/4 sleeves seemed a good idea . . . on hindsight, they don’t look so good.  Same goes for the contrasting stripes which are knitted in 2 rows of knit.  I liked that idea, and it’s partly why I chose this pattern.  Thought they gave it a little bit of interest and texture.  I’ve already managed to pull threads several times on those stripes, just by trying the thing on!  I dread to think what it’ll look like in a few weeks time, once the cats have had a chance to sit on me!

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Saying that . . . this project has been very valuable experience for me.  I have proved to myself  that I can follow a pattern from start to finish.  Pick up stitches around the neckline and manage to knit the neckline ribbing on circular needles – the thought of that had me shaking at the knees, but I did it.  The sewing together of all parts had me worried too.  I’m not going to show any close-ups of seams, as they’re not very pretty, but they not as bad as I feared they would be.    So, on the whole, this has been a positive experience.  Positive enough for me to have been browsing for a new pattern . . . but not feeling expert enough yet to splash out on any brand-name yarn.

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This is what I plan to make next.  Pattern: “Rue”, by Martin Storey for Rowan, was a free download on Wool Warehouse.  Pattern recommends a Rowan DK cotton.  I’ll be knitting in a cheap DK acrylic, in a dusky pink. Size XL for this one!  Here’s hoping it doesn’t take me another 18 months for this!  There will be more learning curves:  how to knit the button band and make button holes! 

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Scraphappy # October (or will I ever grow up and take myself seriously?)

It’s 15th of the month . . . time to link up with Kate and Gun, for the monthly Scraphappy post!  An opportunity to use up some of those scraps, and for me, always a good excuse to have a bit of a laugh.  I do worry about myself sometimes.  It doesn’t take much to keep me amused, nor to make me laugh.  For this month’s scrappy project, I was totally inspired by an idea I found in a book purchased recently in Lidl.

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Title translates as “sewing with scraps” – how appropriate!  And there are lots of quite novel ideas inside.

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28 different projects, in fact.  There are several I do really want to try, but the one that literally grabbed me, when I opened the book was a project to make your own shoe laces. 

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Now . . . after foot operation in April of this year, I had to wear clumpy post-op shoes for a while, then a pair of medical shoes, and swelling is now down enough for me to wear men’s trainers!  I’ve already got a date for operation on the other foot (23rd November) so I’ll be back to post-op shoes and medical shoes over the festive season.  And then more long months wearing men’s trainers.  And then I’ll need orthopedic insoles.    It’s somewhat depressing – not in the medical sense of the word – just very boring, having no pretty shoes that fit.  Anyway . . .

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When I saw the idea in the book, I thought “What fun!” A brilliant & easy idea to liven up my boring trainers . . . and make myself smile each time I look down at my feet!  I deliberately pulled out lots of different colours from my scraps . . . if I’m making shoe laces, then I want them as bright, as zany, and as cheerful as possible!  Process was simple.  I cut my strips 1.5” wide, not bothering about getting them all the same length.  Some are only a few inches long, others much longer.  Sewed all strips together and pressed, exactly as I would if making bias binding.  Sewed all the way along, laced into my trainers, snipped to the right length and made a knot at the ends.

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It’s pure fluke if I ended up with orange in the same position . . . I could have made matching laces, but I wanted odd laces, to go with my “odd socks” – yay!

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And in case you’re wondering if I really will go out like that . . . yup, most definitely!  Jeans hide the socks, but I’m smiling inside because I know they’re there. 

Let’s now go see what other members of the Scraphappy group have found to do this month.

Titti, Heléne, Eva, Sue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan, Karen,
Moira, Sandra, Linda, Chris, Nancy, Alys, Kerry, Jean, Johanna,
Joanne,Jon,Hayley and Dawn

we’re having an Indian Summer

Hmm, looks like we’re having an Indian Summer in our part of the world.  Blue skies, sunshine, and temperatures have been around 26°C during the daytime, although it is getting a bit nippy at night.

What do we do when weather is fine?  Well, if you’ve got a lively dog, like we do, then you go to the park and take photos.

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Here’s Gibbs, our Flat-Coated Retriever, now 2 years old.  A healthy 40 kilos of pure muscle, and enjoying our daily walk/run around the park and obstacle course.  We walk, he runs.

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Please note the lovely blue sky, as well as a very agile Gibbs who has no trouble going up and down all the ramps, and over hurdles.

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And yours truly, in a sleeveless cotton shirt – it’s just like summer!

F2F season 3 – Miss October

Autumn is well and truly here, and I’ve been busy patchworking in quite autumnal colours for Miss October, aka Moira, for the F2F block swap organised by Kate.

Moira asked for shades of browns, including dark & golden, with a hint of duck egg blue, on tonal cream.  Her inspiration photo was

October

This is, apparently, the backing fabric she intends to use for her patchwork blocks.  Now, I had quite a few browns in my stash, and cream, but I didn’t have any duck egg blue . . . what better excuse to buy in some fabric, eh?  And here’s what I made for Moira.

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For the first block I made an “Album Road”, simply with different browns/golds on cream.  No blue in this one.

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Second block is “Bright Morning Star” with a little bit of blue in the centre.

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And third block, is Arkansas Cross Roads.

After making those for Moira, I made an “Old Fan” block for myself, in the same colourway.

Old Fan October

And, then because I really do enjoy making this particular block and was feeling very “autumny” I made another one.

Old Fan Autumn

So, lots of fun this month.  For November, we’ll all be working in some very bright colours for Robin, who has asked for blue, orange and cerise pink.  In the meantime, if you want to see blocks other members have made & sent, you can check out the F2F gallery.

a birthday beanie in Marriner Mermaid “Mirage”

Our neighbours’ baby daughter was 1 year old on 29th September.  Doesn’t time fly? 

I wanted to gift her something hand-made but didn’t want to make any toys as I figured they would arrive aplenty from family members.  So, after some thought, I sat down with my crochet hook and a new ball of very bright yarn to crochet a hat.  Winter is only just around the corner, after all.  There was lots of crocheting and unravelling as I began.  I didn’t exactly follow a pattern, but was using a couple of on-line sources for inspiration.  My problem came from the fact I was using DK yarn, whereas most people seem to write patterns for Aran & Chunky when it’s hats – so it took forever to work my circle to the right size.  Also, no one seemed to agree about head circumference for a 12 month baby and I didn’t want to go dashing across the road with my tape measure.

Anyway, I ended up being inspired by the pattern by Janet, to crochet a beanie with earflaps.  Whilst still referring to this link which explains how to calculate hat size.

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And here’s the beanie, complete with 2 small pompoms on top, earflaps and plaited ties.

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It’s very basic.  Crocheted in a Marriner DK yarn (colour “Mirage” from their Mermaid range).  I hadn’t heard of Marriner yarn before but Viking parents gifted me a couple of balls, in different colourways.  Because I’m curious, I checked out the on-line store and may well be ordering in more at some point because it was lovely to work with.  And very reasonably priced!  Only £1.50 for a 100g ball.  I weighed up the yarn remaining, after this beanie, and I still have 54g left.  Enough to crochet up another beanie, or to make something else.

Anyway . . . the birthday gal looks lovely in her new hat.  It’s a teensy bit on the big side, but not so big that it looks silly.  It should keep her head & ears warm this winter and quite possibly next winter too.

best layer of the month # Miss September

After being Queen of the coop since January . . . Miss Plumpton has finally had to hand over the crown!  Because for September, Mauricette is best layer of the month!

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With a total of 30 eggs – yay!  Miss Plumpton came in a close second, with 27 and Miss Moneypenny a respectable third place with 23 . . . so a total of 80 eggs this month. 

We were away for a few days in September so I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get correct figures for this month , but egg count was easy to tot up.  Claude, the neighbour who looked after hens while we were away, collected 3 fresh eggs every day.  Hens, being very friendly gals, didn’t mind having someone else look after them, especially as Claude brought lots of treats and had a little chat with them every day.  

SAL “ Getting Ready” – happy dance

An energetic happy dance going on here with “Getting Ready”, from the original art work by Ronald West.

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You’ll see that Avis is happy dancing along with me.  We both bought this kit: “Getting Ready”, a Design Works kit in the sales on sewandso in December 2016, for something like £6, I believe.  What a bargain!  It has kept us stitching along since September 2017.  So, a full 12 months of stitching fun, with this project.  I started top left, while Avis began stitching somewhere at the bottom, so it’s been even more fun seeing our stitching progress.  In case you think we are both gifted with telepathic skills, to have managed to finish at the same time . . . nah, we’ve been comparing progress by email, so that we crossed the finish line together.

Anyway, a happy dance means the chance to rummage in the cross stitch stash to find something new for next time.  We won’t be working on the same design for the next project.  However, we have consulted and decided on designs which are approximately the same size and difficulty.  I am going to be working on a kit that’s been in my stash for well over a decade!

SAL new project

“Bag Ladies” – stitched on 16 count with finished design size to be 36cm x 25cm.  I’m hoping, with all the cats and different bags, it’ll be “easy” to work on it cat by cat, and bag by bag.  I’ll let you hop over to Avis’ blog to see what project she has chosen.  Definitely not cats!

And, while you’re at it, here is the full list of SAL members, if you’d like to visit.

Avis, Gun, Carole, LucyAnn, Kate, Jess, Sue, Constanze, Debbierose, Christina, Kathy, Margaret, Cindy, Helen, Steph, Linda, Heidi, Jackie, Sunny, Hayley, Tony, Megan, Catherine, Deborah, Connie

Next SAL update will be on 21st October.  See you then!