Seeking Solace In Knitting: Rose Red Beret

Ysolda Rose Red Beret Sew South LondonAfter my rather tricky dress-making experience with the Colette Dahlia (I am pleased to report that we are friends now), I took advice and sought solace in the comfort of knitting. My tolerance for big projects is much reduced after last winter’s epic shawl, so a slouchy beret seemed the perfect solution.

Ysolda Rose Red Beret Sew South LondonI already had this glorious King Cole Galaxy DK in fuchsia in my stash. I was drawn the sparkle of the sequins in the yarn, and surprisingly they didn’t cause any problems when knitting. Despite the detail, Ysolda’s Rose Red pattern was really straightforward to follow. The beret is worked in the round, starting with an I-cord at the top and then working down through a series of petals to the cable ribbing. Each row is unique, so it was a satisfying combination of a small project with interesting detail.

Ysolda Rose Red Beret Sew South LondonTo give the beret its distinctive shape, it needed to be blocked over a dinner plate. Who knew?! This beret has been renamed The Plate Hat by my children, who have requested scaled-down versions! Finally, Big thanks to my visiting photographer – Auntie Ems, who got me smiling.

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The Blog Hop Stops in South London!

The girls

Greetings Sewistas! It’s been a busy few weeks in South London, and my sew-life balance is seriously out of kilter. That said, I managed to squeeze in another Mathilde blouse last week, this time in leftover Liberty Tana Lawn from my recent and beloved Sureau. Despite life-threatening fatigue I just couldn’t help myself!  Blog post to follow….

One very exciting sewing development of the week was being selected by Beth of SunnyGal Studio, aka The Pattern Whisperer, to help me find the PERFECT party frock. She offered her pattern whispering skills up to help her blog readers select sewing patterns. I couldn’t resist and she has very kindly agreed to help me find the perfect pattern for my forthcoming birthday celebrations. A lady never tells, but it does have a zero on the end, so it’s imperative that I look KNOCK-OUT!! I can’t wait to see what she selects, and will report back!

I was also thrilled to be nominated by Clarinda of Clarinda Kaleidoscope to contribute to the blog hop. I enjoy her blog enormously, and feel that we’re at a similar point in our sewing odyssey. Forging supportive links with other sewists is exactly why I wanted to burst into print and share my makes with the online sewing community. There’s sew much sewing love going on!

Belcarra in Liberty Mitzi

So without further ado, here’s my blog hop:

Why Do I Write?

I love words!! Like most bloggers, I’ve always been a massive reader and bit of a scribbler. I’ve got childhood/teenage journals detailing every event between the ages of 11 and, er, now-ish. Wouldn’t that make an interesting post…?

I started making clothes again last year after a twenty year break, and was so overexciting by my makes that I wanted to tell everyone that my clothes were handmade. I spent, and continue to spend, countless hours reading blogs for inspiration, sewing tips, and scouring images of patterns I wanted to make.

So my decision to start a blog was two-fold: I could channel my pride in dressing handmade into a blog where like-minded folk could seek it out, thus saving my dear colleagues and friends from having to feign interest in my wardrobe. Secondly, I have improved my skills immeasurably from reading other blogs. My sewing experience has been enriched by being able to see other people’s makes. Once I had made a number of homemade garments it was a natural, if scary, step to start a blog where I could contribute images of my pattern and fabric choices in my size. It’s all part of being a community.

What Am I Working On At The Moment?

Ooh! That’s an easy one. I was ‘trying’ to let the sewing machine cool down for a week or two, but I had signed up for a sneek preview of Colette Patterns’ Dahlia. As soon as I clicked on the email, I immediately bought a PDF copy of the pattern and had my two pre-schoolers helping with the glue & sellotape! I’m partway through making the first toile, but should probably wait for the sewalong to get the bust adjustments right.

Rose Red

I’ve also got some very pleasurable knitting on the go. It’s Ysolda’s Rose Red hat pattern, and my first foray into lace knitting. I’m enjoying knitting a few rounds each night and knowing it won’t take long to complete.

How Does Your Blog Differ From Other Blogs?

Do other sewing blogs include knitted prawns?! Seriously though, my blog only differs because it’s me and my sewing choices. I wouldn’t say I had a particular niche or USP. I find sewing an immensely satisfying hobby which has become part of my life. I don’t envisage making this into more than a hobby, so I’m not trying to launch a new career. It’s just a very satisfying outlet for my passion for sewing, and I am excited to be contributing to the huge online resource of sewing patterns in different fabrics and sizes.

Emery Dress

How Does My Writing Process Work?

I’m usually thinking in sentences when I sew. There’s always a few ‘incidents’ that I want to record, so I jot a few thoughts down as I’m going along. The real writing only gets done when I’ve got the photos taken and get the laptop out. I was worried that I might find the blog-writing an added pressure to my already jam-packed life (career, kids, husband etc). But the truth is the writing takes very little time, and the posts kind of write themselves. And I’m going to be sewing anyway.

Nominations….

The blog hop seems to have travelled some miles, so it’s hard to find someone that hasn’t blog hopped, but I would like to nominate Attempts at Being a Grown-Up to hop on to the blog hop next. I always enjoy reading her posts on all manner of crafty activity, and I’m willing her on to knit her second sock! Toodlepip!

Winter Knits: A Marin Shawl

Ysolda Marin Shawl

Don’t you love it when you unexpectedly stumble upon crafty inspiration? A friend at work was wearing the most beautiful and delicate shawl. I asked about it, and was excited to hear about a knitwear designer I’d never heard of: Ysolda Teague.

I’m a fairly recent knitter. Being left-handed, I found knitting and crochet really hard to master as a child. But once I had kids I found that I was craving an activity that was both absorbing and useful, and that would allow me a bit of mental space and relaxation. On a mission, I found Knitty Gritty by Aneeta Patel in my local library and I was hooked (pardon the crochet joke). I can’t recommend the book enough if you’re keen to learn and are not blessed with knitting mums or grannies nearby.

Ysolda Marin Shawl

I chose Ysolda’s Marin Shawl, and had some Amy Butler for Rowan Belle Organic DK I’d bought on sale. It’s gorgeous yarn: 50% organic cotton, 50% organic wool. The only drawback is that it’s handwash only. I learned the hard way. After my second baby was born, I knitted her a newborn-sized cardigan in the same yarn during those crazy early weeks. Somehow, in the chaos of newborn babyhood, it found its way into the washing machine. One 40 degree wash later it had felted into a cardi fit for a doll. I was gutted! So there was no way I was going to use this yarn for anything other than a small item that wouldn’t need to be hand-washed often.

shrunk cardi

This project took me the whole of last winter. I started in October in earnest and finished at Easter. Once I was a third of the way through i realised I’d been doing the ‘M1’ stitch wrong and so I had to pull it out. Undeterred, I soldiered on, starting from scratch.

Ysolda Marin Shawl

Tragedy nearly befell the whole project when my youngest, now toddler, had an outbreak of knitting envy. I must have been lavishing too much attention on my creation to her detriment, when one day a pair of bamboo needles sailed straight past my head. It took me a millisecond to realise that the little monkey had found my knitting bag, pulled the needles out of the yarn and thrown them at me. I’ve never moved so fast to get those needles back into the stitches. I’d been knitting it for four months by then!

Ysolda Marin Shawl

By April the shawl was finished, but it was too warm to wear it, so it’s been under wraps until now. The finished shawl measures 128 cm from end to end. I blocked it as instructed (unusually for me!) and saw exactly why blocking is such an essential part of finishing a garment. The blocking really made a difference to the finished look – the scalloped edges have been pulled into shape; the stitches have been evened out across the whole shawl. It was a labour of love, and I enjoyed always having a knitting project to pick up, although I did succumb to a bit of a pressure in the end as it had taken so long to complete. I’m now working on a little something for this winter….

Knitted Prawns and the Slow Burn Socks

Help me, sewing chums! I am spinning dangerously out of control in a vortex of fabric and patterns, pins and needles! I wouldn’t normally attempt several patterns at once, but a recent record-breaking haul from Simply Fabrics and the arrival of several new patterns through the post/printer has left me in a bit of a tizz. I can barely stay awake at work, such is the fervour of round-the-clock stitching.

Having fallen so hard for the Emery, I’m busy with my second one in an eye-watering floral print. The only thing is, it feels a bit like upholstery fabric so I may end up looking like a 1970s toilet-roll cover. Watch this space! Thankfully I bought 3 metres, and as I was mulling over the fabric weight problem, it came to me: they’d make a perfect pair of trousers! So, no sooner said than done, Sew Over It’s Ultimate Trouser pattern found it’s way out of my printer.

Last, but not least, I had been eyeing up a number of gorgeous Deer & Doe Sureau dresses on the interwebs, with a view to using up my remaining stash of chambray and denim-linen. I also really want to make one in a Liberty Tana Lawn I found when Simply Fabrics confounded all expectation with a few bolts of Liberty (that was an expensive lunchbreak, eh Lou?!). My favourites (again) come courtesy of Paunnet: here in gorgeous doe print fabric, and here in another similarly gorgeous print.

So, while I get busy I’m going to add a few posts of other recent makes. But before I do, the arrival of autumn weather brings the subject of winter sports crafts to the fore…

I know, I know, it’s a sewing blog. But you can’t take your sewing machine to the pub or on the train, or get cosy on the sofa with it on your lap. So here’s my solution for crafty fingers…. socks!

A good friend of mine, Sarah, has been knitting socks like a demon this year and made some beautiful pairs for my girls. They look so gorgeous in the variegated yarn that I couldn’t resist. It may be a while til the first one is done, so I’m blogging it now to commit to finishing a whole pair by Christmas!

And finally, by popular demand, my lifelong pal Horsey has requested I share my knitted prawns with the blogosphere. Here they are with a courtesy side order of pepperoni pizza. Enjoy!

knitted prawns & pizza