Saturday, 21 July 2018

Knitting... Japanese style

A little while ago the lovely Rachel from New South Books got in touch with me to ask if I'd be interested in reviewing a couple of books for her - OMG can you hear me trying to be all cool and calm and oh yes I suppose so and if I must?  Yes, it was nothing like that.  I love craft books.  You can never have too many, in case you have the odd day where you've got nothing to do, all the yarn and fabric in the world, and the right zips, needles, thread to make your masterpiece.  

incidentally, did you know that the original intent of the word 'Masterpiece' was to describe the piece of 'whatever' made by an apprentice to signify that he'd (because they were usually male) finished his training and was ready to go out into the world & actually be let loose on your Cuban Mahogany, your Brazilian Rosewood, your Australian Jarrah to make the most magnificent pieces of furniture?

18thc Apprentice Walnut Chess Table

Anyway, I'm sure that learning knitters do the same thing, if some of those magnificent Japanese shawls are anything to go by:

218s-08 Graceful Linen Shawl - free Japanese charted crochet pattern by Pierrot (Gosyo Co., Ltd)

So, when the this book arrived, I was interested to find that all the patterns were charted.  

It's a lovely solid book, with clear pictures, beautifully laid out with a Symbol Glossary at the beginning, and a 'How to knit these stitches' for some of the more complex stitches at the back.


I have previously found charts difficult to follow because I'm usually sitting on the sofa, in front of the TV, trying to multi-task, and the symbols jump around a bit.  I made this a few years ago from a chart, and vowed never to do it again because I had to frog it a lot of times to get it right, and the act of unpicking, counting & translating the symbols into words then the pattern itself nearly undid me!

This book has, as advertised, 260 knitting patterns, some of which I've seen similar cleaned-up versions of, in various other books, and some I've never seen before:

The book is divided into sections of 'Lacy', 'Lacy With Leaves', 'Lacy With Smocking', 'Bead Embroidery', 'Overall Patterns', 'Crossing Stitch Patterns', 'Panel patterns', where the hard work has been done for you & a beautiful end result is almost guaranteed, then 'Pattern Arrangements', where elements are swapped around to increase the variations.  

There are patterns for yokes (beautiful for kid's cardigans!), and then a huge selection of edging patterns.  There are also some full garment patterns.  

At the back of the book is a really useful section which shows you how to knit some of the more complex stitches, such as Butterfly stitch (5 stitches slipped and lifted over 9 rows, ooh tricky). 

And here's my worked piece - it's hard to see because of the three colours, but I'm going to finish the scarf with this pattern, so I'll post a bit more as it gets closer to the end.

So! If you're looking for a book which will challenge you a bit, but provide you with a great result, this could be the place to start.  Go forth, knit!

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Where have I been?

So, Gentle Readers, more than a year has passed since I posted my hack of Mr Golightly's jacket; much has happened.  We had a wonderful holiday in Europe, with quality time in Brighton, London, Siena, Florence and Rome.  I had the immense pleasure of meeting some instagram friends in the flesh, including the fabulous Betti, who is @bettisstitches on Instagram, and who writes here... the very lovely Cathy Ewbank, who is @cathyewbank on Instagram, and the wonderful @mrs_moog, who makes the most fabulous project bags and who blogs here- meeting these three fabulous like-minded women was one of the highlights of our holiday (the history of lingerie exhibition was a highlight of another kind...)

We had a few days in country England - visiting some friends in Gloucestershire, some nostalgic highlights for me, including a visit to the divine Gloucester Cathedral, which some of the younger people out there might recognise from Harry Potter...

before spending a few days in beautiful Brighton with our good friend Gill...  I love Brighton.  If I'm ever untimely widowed, I'm moving there... just watch me...

And then we went to the Continent, which is the old way of saying "Europe" - flew into Amsterdam where it was 5C with snow on the ground, Florence and then Siena by train, which was a lovely way to go, Italian trains being fabulous... Siena is magical.  This was our second visit, the first was in 2006 when Mr Golightly was having his epilepsy medication fiddled with, and he remembered practically nothing of the trip... this time was really fabulous, we just walked and walked and walked and walked...

oh and I took a few photos...

And then from there we went to Rome, where we were very lazy, apart from a trip to the Vatican Museum specifically to see the Brabante Staircase, which also let us see some wonderful Etruscan artifacts... and a mazillion tourists.  Even in February, it was ridiculously crowded, and I couldn't face the tour of St Peters which was the final part of our tour - we got outside and bolted... well, at least as fast as one person recovering from a total knee replacement could bolt... did I mention that?  Wanna see pics?  

Just kidding.  I wouldn't inflict that on you.  But here's the staircase:

And here's the hardware store that is our near neighbour, funnily enough a nearly identical photo appear on Instagram, from the account of '@anamericaninrome' who lives in Rome & takes fabulous photos... (hers is waaaaaaaaaaaaay better!)

And then we found Viterbo - about 80k from Rome by train, with an intact medieval heart - and almost empty.  

And the usual array of ritzy Italian shops up in the top part of the city - quite schizophrenic really, the Italian gold reserves are held here, so there's the usual multinational stores like Coach and Tiffany but also a nice selection of local shops:

including this one where I spent an easy E80 on buttons:

And we saw a nice souvenir of home in the Corso Di Fiore...

Ah... joy.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

A clever thing...

Oh Gentle Reader, how I have neglected you.  Come over to the dark side of Instagram, where I am @isabella.golightly and I post often...

I'm here to talk about clever sewing, something I do from time to time.  Did I ever blog about this magic thing I did to #mrgolightly's jacket?

I inserted a pocket between the lining and the facing.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I don't understand why men's clothing would ever come without an inner pocket, especially for wallets & essential documents... anyway, I fixed it by adding one on each side of the jacket.  

My only regret is that I got the pocket itself round the wrong way, so you can't see the funky frogs that make up the pocket, but I know they're there.

Anyway, I just did it again on the jacket I'm taking to the Northern Hemisphere with me in February, and I promised a tutorial, so here goes:

You will need:

A zipper, reasonably long (14"/35cm)
Matching thread
An unpicker

Start by very very carefully undoing the stitching that holds the lining & facing together:

You can take the opportunity, as I did here, to improve the finish inside the lining with my pinking shears.  Not that anybody except you is ever going to see it, but... 

Make your pocket.  This is simply two pieces of material to your taste, attached to the wrong side of the zip so that the right side of the material is going to be seen when you open the zip.  Don't be like me & forget to attach the pocket to the zip properly so the pocket facings show :-( - 

Size up your hole to match your pocket, or you can size up your pocket to match the hole.  Doesn't really matter.  Just make sure your zip is long enough when you start so that you can trim to size.  Chop off the end of the zip that has the metal stopper.  Carefully insert the pocket into the hole, zipper closed.  Do I need to say the zipper pull should be at the top?

With the zipper closed, insert the pocket into the gap, just to make sure you've got the sizes right, then open the zipper.
I repinned mine about 3 times to make sure I had it sitting right.  There are no limits here :-D

(You can clearly see on the next photo that the underneath of the zip shows over the lining - if I'd done it right, you would only see a neat finish and none of the underneath of the zip, as in the photos up the top.)

Anyhoo, pin both sides of the pocket separately to make sure you have no puckers:

 And then with the zipper foot attached on the right hand side, push the rest of the jacket out of the way (underneath & to the left), and carefully stitch the zipper.  You're stitching the facing for one side, and the lining for the other side.

Repeat for the other side, being very careful not to catch the jacket when you're doing the lining side.  You will need to turn the jacket upside down & stitch from bottom to top for the lining side, whereas doing the facing side you will stitch from top to bottom.

From the inside - a very functional pocket, custom made to my size requirements.

From the outside, there's no evidence of a pocket, but the usefulness of your jacket has just been increased at least two-fold.  

You may have to handstitch the ends closed to reinforce them, as it's very difficult to get the machine to get the required neatness of finish here.  I'd love to find a better technique for doing this, but the handstitching with doubled thread works pretty well.

That's it.  Please let me know if you're brave enough to try it.  You could always make a test piece using two different fabrics as lining & facing, just to try it out.  


PS Next job, new buttons.  Those brown things are just awful!

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

See? Nobody comes here any more.

Not even me.  I wanted to list the updated Bilby Pattern (see, Gentle Readers, I haven't even shared that news with you (have I?)) on Etsy as a free download, but you have to charge at least 0.30c for something.  So much for philanthropy.

Anyway, I think there's a way to do it from here, and I shall endeavour to find it.

News:  still working full time, blah.  perennial bookcase is near to completion, (well, close to being brought inside so it can have the rest of its bits done in situ), husband OK, house ditto.

Look, seriously, I do everything on Instagram now.  Come on over, it's painless - @isabella.golightly.

Now.  How do you get to this thing?

Ooh that was easy.  Come & get it.  The new version of the full pattern will be available in store shortly, as soon as I can persuade my tame Graphic Genius to draw it up for me.


Sunday, 6 September 2015

Barbara Walker's Triple Leaf a la me

Cast on 21 sts
Knit some rows of moss to suit

R1 and all odd rows:  moss 3, pearl, moss 3
R2: K1, yo, k2tog, k3tog, (yo k1) x 3, yo, k3 tog tbl, ssk, yo, k1
R4: k1, yo, k3 tog, yo, k7, yo, k3 tog tbl, yo, k1
R6: k1, yo, k2tog, yo, k1, yo, k2, sl2 k-wise, k1, p2sso, k2, yo, k1, yo, ssk, yo, k1
R8: k1, yo, k2tog, yo, k3, yo, k1, sl2 k-wise, k1, p2sso, k1, yo, k3, yo, ssk, yo, k1
R10: k1, yo, (k2 tog) X 2, k3, yo, sl2kw, k1, p2sso, yo, k3, (ssk twice), yo, k1
R12: k1, yo, (k 2tog)  x 3 , (k1, yo) x 2, k1, (ssk x 3), yo, k1


Ssk - slip slip knit - slip a stitch knitwise onto the rh needle, then slip a second one, then insert the lh needle into the front of the stitches on the rh needle and knit as normal.

This lovely pattern is from Barbara Walker's second Treasury of Patterns... For @thelittleredhen08.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

You rang?

Hello! If you've popped over from the 'gram, as us cool kids like to call it, looking for the box pouch tutorial, and you're new, there some things you need to know.

Firstly, the box pouch tutorial was written in March 2009, when I first figured out how to make these suckers after an interesting accident with a smally furry animal, a bottle of wine and MGF Kaz from the Hunter Valley.

Secondly, it was the first tutorial I'd ever written and I may rewrite it, depending on any feedback.

Thirdly, this blog is almost deaddybones, so if you want me to keep writing, some feedback would be nice.  Just sayin'.

The link is here... Enjoy.

PS The tutorial assumes you know how to make a zipper sandwich.  If you don't know how, there are two really good tutorials, here, and here.  Both these tutorials assume you don't want to line your pouch, invisibly or otherwise, which is fine.  If you want to stop there, you can!