Rounding Up 2014

So, here we are again, another year gone and time to see how the crafting went. I had some grand plans, and a lot of that never even got started. I’m finding that when I do have time over a weekend or in the evening that I’d much rather sit and knit than go upstairs and sew, and that sometimes I just need to sit and not do anything more strenuous than reading a book. But, I still managed to get quite a bit done and I’m not giving up on the list of things I want to do, I just need to realise that they’re going to take longer than anticipated.

The last sewing project of the year was a dog cushion for my nephew. He liked mine when they visited, so I made him a sort of i-spy version with lots of pictures on it.

002001Sadly my sister was really ill over Christmas so she, her husband and the nephew didn’t get to come as planned (my Aunt was also ill so I cooked for 6 rather than 10) so he’s not seen it yet, but I hope he likes it.

I took the boys to their Dad for a week and came home thinking that I would try to finish off Jim’s jumper. 4 days and 2.5 series of Glee later I think the sofa has the permanent shape of my bum and I got 3 projects off the needles!

First, Jim’s jumper which was a Rico Design pattern using King Cole Big Value Aran. Jim picked both the pattern and the yarn for this on his own so I’m hoping he likes the finished thing! I added a little length to the body for him as I want it to last longer than the last jumper I made him.

005006This wasn’t a hard knit at all, lots of cables but pretty easy to keep track of and in aran it knit up fast. I am still a little annoyed by the fact that the cables aren’t mirrored and if I use this pattern for Piggle in the future I will change that about it. The back is cabled as well in cast you’re wondering, no easy pieces to this!

Next up was Spacegirl which has been sitting around waiting for sleeves for far too long. I knit the body whilst doing my research reading but the sleeves were too fiddly on dpns and keeping track of rows to do without a little attention so it’s got chucked to one side! I used SMC cotton time for this from Kemps which is a lovely yarn to knit with, although I think it’s going to pill quite a bit which is annoying.

004003I don’t know what happened at the bottom of the V, but I’m going to put a stitch in there to hold it together better because it’s annoying me to look at it. I’m happy with the way this came out and I’m looking forward to wearing it. It’s plain but not too plain and the cotton has nice weight to it.

Finally, I got the Conferva Villosa socks done. There were some errata with this pattern, the website does list one for the heel which I didn’t know before I’d finished both socks, but I had a few other annoying problems along the way. I’m still puzzled as well as to why there was a left and a right sock as it’s not a pattern that needs to be mirrored in any way and I sort of wish I’d knit the left one twice as I prefer the way the toe looks on it, but you live and learn (looking at that photo I’m wearing the left sock on my right foot, but as I don’t know my left from right without thinking about it that’s not a surprise really).

007Next up in the Curiosity Cabinet Challenge is a hat which I’m looking forward to as I haven’t done one in years!

You’d think my list of things on the needles would have shrunk after these finishes, but actually they have just been quickly replaced with projects that were waiting to be cast on, which is fine as I don’t have what feels like too much going on with my knitting at the moment and I’m happy to start the things that have been waiting. I have one more ‘old’ project to finish that just needs one sleeve and a zip so I will hopefully get that done soon too, only the start of it requires much attention so I might try to get that at least started tomorrow.

So, stats for the year.

I bought 75 y/m of fabric this year which isn’t too bad. I had that huge 19 y/m haul from the local sale and also bought some quilt backs, but I had three months where I bought nothing. I sewed 67.5 y/m, not a huge amount for me but not too shabby. It breaks down to:

3 Bags

2 Christmas Stockings

2 Dresses

1 Coat

8 T-shirts (for me and Piggle)

5 Cushions

7 Pairs of kids’ pjs

1 Curtain

1 Shirt

3 Quilts

Goals for next year are to buy less as I really don’t need it and to finish the quilts that are in progress as well as a couple of the ones I have all the fabric for, that should keep me busy! I have a list of clothing sewing and some cool new 70s patterns I bought recently so I hope to get more of the fabric off the shelves an into my wardrobe next year.

I don’t keep track of the amount of yarn I buy or use, I still have the goal of eliminating the yarn drawers and having it all in one cabinet, I will get there if I try not to buy too much in Kemps sale area and keep finishing off things! This year I knit:

4 Shawls

3 Pairs of socks

4 Jumpers

3 Cardigans

3 Dishcloths

Not bad, not great, but not bad. I’ve actually run out of places to store my hand knits despite giving a big bag of ones I never wore or didn’t like to charity so a slight slowing down isn’t a tragedy (I have 2 drawers just for hand knit socks!).

Running – in my first year of tracking I ran 233.55 miles this year. I was hoping to do 250 when I saw that I’d gone over 200 but the weather and lack of motivation put an end to those plans. My running goals for next year are to get up to 10k and take part in a few races. I will need to work on my strength and general fitness to manage it, as well as finding some running shoes that don’t put my right foot to sleep after 1.5 miles. I am planning how to manage this and hoping that I can stay motivated and injury free (and fall over less than I did this year).

Looking at how many books I read this year it’s not really a surprise that my knitting and sewing were down. I think I set a new record finishing 126 books! I read a fair amount of urban fantasy rubbish and YA series, but also some heavier and more interesting things. I wasn’t all that certain about buying a Kindle but I have to say that I’m a total convert now and don’t go anywhere without it.

There have been some ups and downs this year, we said goodbye to my Grandmother at 101 years old and my Uncle far too early. I’ve had some academic ups and downs as well as health ups and downs. But, we moved somewhere we love, we’re happy, pretty much healthy and still here ready to keep on moving forward, at the end of the day that’s still pretty damn good.

So, that was 2014. I hope you had a great Christmas, have a lovely New Year celebration whatever you chose to do (I’m going to carry on with Glee I think and maybe crack open some wine later on). Thank you for reading my blog this year and I look forward to sharing what I do with you in 2015!

Forgotten Things and New Things

I was clearing out my photo folder and came across some things that it appears I forgot to blog about, plus there are a couple of small projects that I’ve managed to finish too!

First up, the do. Good Stitches Bee blocks, these are June’s. They’re paper pieced and it took me until the 4th one to manage to get all the way through without having to rip out a seam, I guess my brain just wasn’t into the paper piecing that day!

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These are July’s blocks, as I had to buy the cream fabric for them I figured I would use it all up and do three 12″ blocks. All the patterned fabrics for these blocks is coming out of my scrap basket which is nice as it uses it up and means I don’t need to cut into fat quarters for little bits. Anyway, these aren’t my favourite blocks, I don’t really like the design much, I did use a new to me way of making four half square triangles at a time though rather than sewing together tons of triangles as the tutorial said.

014I somehow never blogged about the Emma Louise sweater that I finished at the end of June. I bought the pattern at the Knitting and Stitching Show last year and found the lovely Twilleys Freedom Echo from Kemps in just the blue I wanted to make it in. It’s a recycled yarn and was really nice to knit with.

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The stripes are made by going from 4mm to 8mm needles for a set number of rows which made this a fun knit as well as being fast and easy. The picture is a bit rubbish as it’s hard to photograph and there isn’t really that hole under the front of the neckband as it appears. This is basically two rectangles with the front being split and the ‘sleeves’ are just ribbing that it sewn on the side making it sort of  a batwing shape.

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It’s really comfortable to wear and I’m very happy with how it came out.

Whilst watching the boys play at various playgrounds last week I made a very simple crochet dishcloth using a leftover ball of the Echo. I just chained as long as seemed good and then kept going until I’d used all the yarn. I really like the texture of it.

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I have cast on another dishcloth to carry around with me, I need some new ones and it’ll be nice to get the yarn out of my stash and into use, I think I have four or so that I can make this summer and it makes the sitting about waiting more productive and less frustrating!

I also made this short sleeve v-neck Renfrew t-shirt at the end of June. I used this fabric before years back and this was the other half of the fabric. It won’t hold its shape or its colour for long but it’s a fun summer t-shirt all the same.

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I have three more t-shirt patterns I want to try out to add a few more to my collection when I get around to it, all are downloaded patterns, two free and one I paid for, so hopefully I will have something to show you soon, although next up for the sewing is to finish off my Scrap Vomit Quilt.

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The final thing to show you is this very very simple curtain which literally took 20 minutes as all I had to do was to seam the four sides of this piece of fabric. I don’t know where this came from but it looks really nice on this door and lightens up the hallway a lot as the previous curtain was lined and made from quite a dark fabric so it kept the light out. I know this curtain, being unlined, won’t keep the heat in as well as the old one did, but as the cat flap is in the door behind this door it’s never going to be shut anyway so it won’t matter all that much!

On a different note, I think I might have finally found the shelves that can handle my cookbook collection. The previous ones are in my sewing room and are totally trashed from the weight of the books, so trashed that they will be thrown away when we move from here as there’s no point in moving them again. This set is metal and from Ikea, they fit the space in the kitchen just perfectly and I’m not worried about them throwing a shelf of books on my head like the last ones did.

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I had the books in boxes for about three weeks before I got these shelves and it was so nice to finally have them out and to be able to use them again. There is also room for expansion which is great!

So, that’s it for now, I need to go and buy some oil and lots of flour for the huge baking afternoon I have planned, lots of seasonal fruit to use up (and more bananas on their way out!) and I plan to fill the freezer with treats!

Spring Greens

Green is my favourite colour, so I obviously tend to lean towards it when buying fabric and yarn. I don’t usually finish so many green things in a row as I have done recently though, maybe it’s the season!

First up is Hitchhiker, again by Martina Behm. Apparently the answer to the universe using Yarntopia Treasures 100% bamboo is 45 rather than 42, or maybe that’s just the answer of someone whose favourite numbers are those with 5’s in them and who hates to waste yarn!

008006The colourway is called Desert Locust and I just kept knitting until I couldn’t do another repeat. Again, no blocking as it won’t make a difference or stick with 100% bamboo.

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I finished up a few bits in the sewing room and decided to get another thing off the piles of crap waiting so I made another cushion. According to Ravelry I started the Babette Blanket in 2010 which explains why the bag was so dusty when I found it behind my sofa last month! I realised at that point that I was never going to finish it and when I saw that what I had done was the perfect size for a cushion I blocked it and ordered the filler to go in it.

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The colours on this are so wrong, it’s much brighter and limey and the dark green on the back is a forest green. I did a french seam with my walking foot to make sure it was well attached and so I didn’t have to turn over the edges on all four sides of the backing pieces! I love the way this turned out and I’m so glad it’s something rather than another annoying bag taking up space.

And, finally, a jumper I started in December, worked on furiously and then abandoned until recently when I worked on it furiously again! This is Gathering Stripes by Veera Välimäki using Sirdar Calico from Kemps. This is so very me right now, stripes, grey and green, I just adore it.

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This is such a well written and easy to follow pattern and using one of my favourite yarns in the round it was a joy to knit. I was sure I needed buttons and didn’t have anything right in my box and then I found these which I think work quite well.

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I added a few inches to the length as I like jumpers to hit my hip bones and cover my ‘mummy tummy’ completely. I got right to that last bit before I realised that I didn’t have the right size circular for the hem so I had to wait for that to arrive before I could finish. I love the hems, the just add something and the were very easy to stitch down t00.

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Just like me to finish a jumper right when the weather is warming up, but there you go, I’m sure it will get a lot of wear when I can!

Next up is lots of quilting, I’ve got one pin basted waiting to be started and two after that sitting in line!

 

Slowly Slowly

I feel like I’m working away at things whenever I get the chance but that I’m not getting all that many chances! Anyway, I do have a few bits to share with you.

First up is Jim’s Weasley Sweater that I had on the needles forever. I really don’t enjoy knitting with more than one colour and I’m really not very good at it. I know if I tried it more I would improve, but the whole tangling balls of yarn just really pisses me off and no matter how I try to get the tension right and twist things in the right place it just all feels horribly messy and uneven.

003Jim, however, loves this sweater and has worn it as often as he can since I made it, which is good as it’s taken so long that he’ll probably grow out of it within a year! The yarn is SMC Northern that I got from Kemps on clearance, it comes in massive balls and I used just over 1 for this along with some Boyes Aran. The pattern is the free one that’s been around forever and a day, I did the Canadian Living version as it matched the gauge of this aran yarn.

For some reason I got a bee in my bonnet about having the Scrap Vomit quilt top squares all over the place and decided that I needed to get the top done. I worked on it and worked on it and had to buy more scraps as I didn’t have enough variety to finish it. I finally got it done and now it will just sit there waiting until I can afford the batting and 6 yards of backing fabric it requires…

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It’s a really odd length, I almost feel like it’s a row too long but I will leave it as I did it. I am really happy with the mix of colours and the Kona Cerise which is such an obnoxious but pretty colour.

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As this quilt top is so blinding I am hoping that no one will notice that many of the rows aren’t actually squares any more. My early blocks all came out too small and once I figured out what I was doing wrong I was unable to do it wrong even on purpose so my later blocks had to be trimmed back about half an inch all around. It seems that instead of using the 1/4″ foot as a guide I was pushing the fabric up against it. That doesn’t matter too much in a block without many seams, but in blocks like this where there are tons of them you end up with a block that’s about half an inch smaller than it should be… Hopefully now I have stopped doing that my blocks should be better, we’ll see.

After getting the quilt top done I knocked out the last pair of winter pjs this year which were for Jim.

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I adore this fabric and it is so soft, inside and out. He’s very happy with them and they’re in high rotation. They’re the usual Kwik Sew 1557 in size 10 and the only change I made was to straighten the legs of the trousers as Jim is perfectly this size at the moment. This was the first fabric I’d ever seen with arrows on the selvage showing you which way up it went, useful!

And last up for this post is this month’s Siblings Together Bee block.

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This was another really simple block made even easier as 80% of the cutting had already been done by the lady in charge. I only had to rip out one seam which isn’t too bad!

Next up on the sewing table is my Christmas quilt which I cut out over the weekend and then realised that I had hardly any white thread to sew it with. I am waiting for a delivery of Aurifil and then I will get sewing on it as I’d like to get it done by the start of December so it can live on the sofa, must remember to order some batting for it too!

I feel a bit scattered with these blog posts, maybe because my crafting is so scattered feeling. Maybe I’m working on too many things or maybe the change in the weather to really cold quite suddenly has slowed me down but I don’t feel like I’m getting much done, nowhere near what I’d like to. My sewing to do list is huge and my knitting projects are all over the living room. I must power on and get things done before it all becomes stressful and annoying rather than fun which is never good!

For the Boys

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The ‘summer’ pyjama sewing continues, if only we could have some weather to compliment these it would be great… We had about a week of warm evenings and we’re now back to cold nights, it’s gone well past dull and boring now. This is the fabric I bought for Piggle at the Knitting and Stitching Show last year. It was really wide and £8 p/m so I only bought one metre of it hoping it would be enough. It took some very creative cutting and some plain white fabric for the facings to get this short-sleeved version out of the fabric, that boy is getting big now. I didn’t widen the legs on these due to lack of fabric but they look ok on the leggy soon to be 6-year-old.

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Final pair for Piggle using fabric from Fabricland in Brighton. I’ve got the same in a different colourway to use for Jim this summer too, once again they picked to have ‘matching’ pyjamas, I keep thinking they’ll grow out of that soon but am always glad to find out they haven’t! The pattern for these pairs is the usual Kwik Sew 1556, I think there’s one more size left before he moves on from it.

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This is Tama by Kelly Brooker. I went to buy the larger sized pattern for the cardigan I made for my nephew and discovered that there was an Ebook for not much more that had this jumper pattern in it too. I have had this CottonEase for god knows how long and was planning on doing a jumper for Piggle with it anyway, this pattern just finally motivated me to use it up! I made the 6-year-old size for him (the largest on the pattern) and made sure that there was enough length in the sleeves and body for him to wear it for a good long while. It looks like there’s a pattern on the yoke but really it’s just that it’s knit back and forth and my gauge when I purl is looser and messier than when I knit in the round. It will even out a bit with washing (I couldn’t be bothered to block a kids jumper) but I wish I could figure out a way to make it less obvious as there are so many patterns now that have some parts knit back and forth and some in the round. Anyway, Piggle likes it, I like it and I can finally tick a jumper for him off my list and get rid of the last bits of this yarn to the charity shop.

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Jim only needs two pairs of pyjamas this summer and these are the first of them. Again there was some creative cutting on these as I didn’t have as much fabric as the pattern called for, I need to start buying 3m for him instead of 2.5 as I have been. There’s some mirroring across the front of the shirt which is a little annoying but nothing a 10-year-old boy would notice. The pattern is Kwik Sew 1557 and I moved up to the 10-year-old size for him.

A while back I saw on a blog that someone had sewn on buttons in a fun arrow way, I’ve wanted to do it ever since but haven’t used buttons with four holes until now.

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It’s not actually that clear in the photos but Jim and I find it amusing so that’s ok.

The pyjamas using the dinosaur print are going to be a cutting nightmare as it’s a directional print so I’m putting off working on those for a bit, I’ll get them done eventually.

Next up hopefully is a finished quilt. I’m doing the actual quilting at the moment so as long as I get on with it it should be done during half term, then I can move onto something else, this one feels like it’s been on the go forever for some reason!

A Little Bit of This and a Little Bit of That

I have finally managed to find my sewing mojo, but it’s come back in a very scatter-shot way.  Instead of my usual start to finish on one project I’m doing a bit on one thing and then starting something else then finishing something then finding something new to work on. I’m not going to argue with it though, at least I’m sewing and making progress and I actually have a few things to show you!

First up is my Woodland Sampler which I’ve finally gotten up to date with thanks to the boys having chicken pox, I sat on the sofa and worked on this each afternoon.

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I actually enjoyed doing February the best, a solid block of stitching seems easier for my brain to understand than having to move here there and everywhere. There are few mistakes in this, and some mango chutney near the deer’s feet that needs to be cleaned off (don’t eat bread sticks with chutney over your cross stitch even if you think you’re being careful…) but I’m happy with what I’ve done so far and looking forward to next month’s pattern arriving.

In fact I’ve been enjoying doing the cross stitch so much that I have started another one while I’m waiting for the next instalment of the sampler. It’s a pretty simple one so it shouldn’t take too long and I’m liking the way it looks so far. I seem to definitely have the cross stitch bug now and find myself spending ages on Etsy looking at different patterns…

I also managed to finish off another knitting project, this is the Bramblewood Vest

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I used Patons Cotton Twist Aran which I got from Kemps for 99p a ball (they still have some and I went back yesterday and bought more for 2 small projects…). It was a little splitty but really nice to knit with and i like the way it’s come out. I added a ball of yarn’s worth of length to it because by the time it stretched widthwise it was shorter than I wanted it to be. Besides that it’s exactly to the pattern and was a pretty simple knit.

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The only thing I don’t like is the difference in my knitting between when I knit back and forth and knit in the round, purling really messes up my work which is annoying. I’m hoping that when I get around to blocking it it’ll even up a bit. I do love the applied i-cord edging on this though, it makes it so neat and tidy.

I have been casting on a bit randomly with my knitting too. I realised that I want to give Jim the dinosaur I bought the kit for at the Knitting and Stitching Show for his Birthday which is in just over a month so I probably should get on with it. I’ve been working on it in the evenings so it remains a surprise. I also have been working on his Weasley Sweater and have finished the back and am working slowly up the front as he wants his initial on it and I don’t like doing colour work at all. I also cast on for Nori from the newest Knitty and a pair of plain socks using some Wendy Happy that’s stripey and pink (one sock down almost halfway through the second).  Hopefully none of these will stay on the needles too long, I seem to have projects everywhere!

Finally, a sewing project. My cat Lavinina set a live mouse lose in the kitchen a while back and it made itself a nice bed in the cupboard under the kitchen sink by eating the hot water bottle cover I had knit myself… I’d seen a tutorial for sewing a cover but hadn’t found any heat proof batting (although thinking of it regular batting would probably work just as well…) , I bought some to make oven gloves with at some point and also for this and it’s been sitting there a couple of months now. Yesterday I was printing off a few tutorials when I came across the one for the cover so I dug through the fabric, got cutting and came up with this.

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My quilting isn’t always that brilliant and it’s a little tight for my hot water bottle but the Koka cord is SO SOFT and I love the pink and grey combination and the fabric’s together (Madrona Road Haystack inside). It’s quilted with Aurifil 50wt in grey, I feel like I’m trying to see how many projects I can work on without changing the tread in my machine, I’m now on number 3 and thinking that I might start number 4 using the same colour later…

Anyway, I’m very happy with it and hopefully no mouse will eat it, I’m going to go and find that bit of thread in bottom right of the 3rd picture now and remove it…

Hopefully will have more to show soon if I can settle long enough to finish anything!

Gifts

I realised I needed to get going on some of my Christmas sewing plans, I knew what I wanted to do and mainly what fabric I was going to use I just needed to get the work in so since I last posted I’ve managed to get two things off my list and pick fabric for another so I’m feeling like I’m making progress!

First up was this peg bag for my sister.  She asked that I make her one so when I found this coated cotton online I bought some for it.  This actually isn’t the print I was going to use, I ordered some polka dot for her and this for the boys but the seller left the polka dot out by mistake.  The listing said that the coated cotton would be suitable for sandwich wraps and as Jim’s are looking a little tatty I thought I’d make him a few more.  However, this fabric is coated on the outside rather than the inside which means that you’d have to use it inside out so it was probably a good thing I only got half a yard rather than having it sitting around without knowing what to do with it.

This was really easy to make using this tutorial as a guide, the only issue I had was with getting the coat hanger down to size, I snapped the end off one side and managed to gash my index finger quite severely, so I used scissors after that!

Next up was something that had been floating around my head since I made Jim’s iPod case. I decided to make my Mum a camera case using up some of the Liberty Lawn squares that I’d bought recently.  I wanted to do a mini patchwork so I worked out the measurements and got to work.

Basically I took the 5″ squares and cut them into strips which I pieced together, then I cut the strips into 3 strips lengthways, flipped the middle one and sewed them back together again.  I then added some of the leftover Essex Linen I had to the sides and the resulting patchwork is one inch squares!  I quilted it by stitching near the ditch (I really must buy a stitch in the ditch foot soon) and then put it together as the tutorial dictates.  I did change the final sewing together order from the directions as I discovered with Jim’s case that my machine can’t pull through the fat bottom corner so rather than starting at the bottom of one side and going all the way around to the other bottom corner I started at the centre top (which has the added benefit of reinforcing the elastic) and sewed down to the bottom one side at a time and there was a lot less swearing and use of seam ripper!

I used three Liberty Lawn squares on the inside and the button was from my button box.  I adore this, it came out just how I’d pictured it in my head and I actually want to keep it for myself which I guess means digging out some more scraps and making myself one soon to ensure I do give this to my Mum!

And there’s another knit off the needles, this is King Cole 3528 made using Sirdar Calico.

I really like the way the pattern matches up the side seam, it’s a nice touch.  This was a really simple pattern, just two pieces with an easy pattern repeat on 4mm needles.  It didn’t take all that long once I got to work on it, again showing that if you actually work on your knitting you do make progress!  I can’t get the sleeves to lie flat even after a light iron but I’m thinking that when they have arms in them they will lie a bit flatter.

I cast off the neckline too loosely but rather than ripping back it was easier to do a crochet slip stitch around the inside skipping every fourth stitch, it’s now nice and firm rather than being all Flashdance!

So I’m now down to two projects left to finish from my list before the end of the year.  The Grenadine Cardigan is coming along nicely, I now have the back (which I finished before abandoning it), one sleeve and almost all of one front finished so I think I should be able to get it done quite soon as long as I keep working on it.  The other project is the crochet blanket which I’ve just started the final colour repeat on (I think there are 26 colours and I’ve done 1 1/2 so far).  I actually seem to have enough yarn to do another repeat but I think it will be far too long if I do that, it’s already going to be longer than I am tall which is surely enough!  Again, as long as I keep picking it up I should have no problem getting it done.  I’ve swatched already for the two projects I want to cast on when these are done which is good incentive to keep working away on them, hopefully I’ll have something else to show you soon!

Right, off to argue with a zip that I’m replacing in a bag for my sister.  The ‘heavy duty’ zip I bought for it actually has come apart at the stopper end which I was putting it in, so there’s going to be a lot of hand sewing to create a stop at then end as I’m not picking out 4 rows of stitching and buying another £5 zip, it’s been sitting there for far too long already!