Book Review – Gifted Mags Kandis

Welcome dear reader….I have a rather large collection of crafting books – some of them could be described as Vintage my oldest sewing book goes back to 1934! It is getting a bit of struggle these days to find really unique ideas – I notice many of the crafting books have the same projects but slightly revamped, so it was a real pleasure to pick up this book and find something new. 
This felted mouse rest is delightfully done – filled with wheat and heated gently will give relief to a tired wrist. I love the apple like quality to this project – so fresh. 

I have never come across this idea before, knitted bangles that it made me want to shrink a jumper straight away! I love bangles but after a little while of wearing them and getting the clack clack clack every time I move my arm, I usually remove them long before the day is out. Somehow I think these just might last a little longer… and they may well manage to be a gift for someone! 
I have a large willow pattern teapot that I use first thing in the morning, I bought about 25 years ago!  Mr D and I need lots of strong breakfast tea to get us going in the morning – it makes a good two mugfuls and several refills of my delicate edwardian tea cup.  Since it is larger than usual it does not benefit from a tea cosy. Seeing this gorgeous simple design has inspired me to take up my needles – of course with my own unique twist! Will show you the finished result when its made! 
This book is well worth buying if you can get hold of it, a great addition to a crafter’s library.
ttfn… x 

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Woolly Wrestling

I was told of a new wool shop in the nearby town so set off on my trusty bicycle (the tyres managed to stay up – in my book that is trusty) along the glorious flat promenade with the expectation of wooly wonders to behold. Yes I do get the irony, wool is a odd obsession in the sunshine but then I make no claims to be level headed and logical! 
The shop itself was a hobby store, which is wonderful but the wool section merely had a few balls of very cheap wool. I wanted some angora as the jumper I am knitting is eating the wool at rather a fast rate and I may only really have enough for a tea cosy! I asked the shop owner about other types of wool and she told me that sadly it just did not sell – her customers just wanted the cheaper balls. 
It took me back a few years when I remember standing in John Lewis which had some fabulous wool for sale – my simple calculations estimated the cost of a jumper to be in the region of £80 at the time it was beyond my budget. I remember my frustration – surely they must realise that you can buy a jumper in a store ready made for about £30 what were they thinking? 
Now my opinion is beginning to shift – I have become disconnected with the making process and my value system is based around the cost of buying something in the shops, often made in countries where wages are low – I am beginning to wake up to how much it has warped my values and my expectations. I see rails and rails of clothes and jumpers in charity shops, worn for a season or two then simply discarded, if it costs us so little then why on earth would we value it? Yet our resources are not limitless – we need to understand where this direction is headed. If all our money is being spent in shops -eventually we will lose our ability to make anything, skills will disappear – we will become dependent and ultimately at their mercy. Moreover, we simply cannot sustain this concept of throw away that pervades everything we buy from bread, clothes, through to white goods and furniture. 
It is not a fast easy process to create wool, it needs to be teased, spun and dyed that means hours of work by someone and it is my choice to decide if that someone is sitting in a factory in a third world country or a farmer’s wife making extra money to make ends meet in the UK. 
I get a great deal of satisfaction from creating something with love, care and consideration, why not then have the same reverence for the raw materials? How much nicer it would be to wear something that had been lovingly made from sheep to my fingers – something that would be treasured for years to come. If I wear my jumper for eight years then it will only amount to £10 a year – it brings the cost into a more realistic amount. 
For me, knitting is a sensory experience – I made an item with some of this £1.99 /100g wool – it was a waste. The garment simply did not feel nice to wear and knitting with it was not pleasant either. I spend a great deal of time in wool shops touching the wool – I want something soft and comforting next to my skin and if it is comfortable to wear then I won’t be parting with it easily. 
Here is sneak peek at what I am making, what you cannot do is feel how wonderfully soft and downy it is. I will do a post about fair isle knitting and patterns soon. In the meantime happy knitting! 

Knit witts!

I have just started knitting again after many years – I learnt to knit when I was about 8 or 9, it seemed to come naturally to me and even now there is a beautiful state of meditation and calm as I pass the wool round the needles and see the gentle progression of my garment. 
Jumpers these days are not made in the traditional sense, look at any jumper and you will discover that it is made in a similar way to a dress would be, only using a fine knitted material to make up its jumper like appearance. 
For years, I have had a sense of disillusionment, most knits are shapeless, despite their delightful elasticity – it appears the trend is for mostly shapeless garments that do not flatter anyone’s figure. 
Take this one for example, it bulges at the hips, cuts across the widest part of the body (which in this model is tiny) and does nothing for her at all apart from hide her body away. In an ordinary woman this would be a disaster, the stripes running across the body would accentuate and make anyone look wider than they are, and the drooping shoulder would make her look as if she was slouching. Now I am not a prig, this is a nice bright jumper for days when you want to curl up on a sofa, with a cup of tea, an open fire and good book, but it could do both – it could flatter the body rather than fattening it! 
You would imagine Chanel would get things right, but look at the hip line, with that very chunky rib, the model is tiny but it makes her look bigger than she is. While the lace insert detail at the back is lovely, this could have been made to fit closer to the body, the black hole at the bottom indicates that there is a gap – and the folds you can see at the back would be resting on the rise of the bottom….. not flattering at all! 
This is from this season, and a knitting magazine so it should get things right, but in this case it doesn’t – she looks absolutely enormous, there is no shape and the short length makes her look as if she has outgrown it. Now I can understand the lovely sixties vibe that comes out of this but what is it doing for this girl? It doesn’t flatter at all. 
Doesn’t she look lovely? That gorgeous neckline accentuates her collarbone, and you can see she is a woman – the style is making her neck look long, the delicate sleeves enhance the curve of her chest and out to her arms. This flatters her shape and makes her look feminine, she is not disappearing under a shapeless jumper. 
This makes stunning use of the stitch and the properties of knitting, I love the structure the rib gives and the way it reflects the bias cut style of the 1930’s. Notice too that it finishes just below the waist, not at the hip, this is kinder to body and gives rise to curves without distorting the size of the hip. The upright direction of the rib on the lower half has a slimming effect, and while the shaping enhances the bust, it does it subtly. 
Vintage patters make knitwear sexy, yes you read that right, sexy. Imagine you can be warm and sexy how good would that be! 
Look at the complexity of the patterns created, how they used the knitting to create puff sleeves, frills and curves. Thank goodness for the current Vintage trend, it has allowed us all to re-claim the lost art of knitting, to be inventive and use it to enhance our bodies. 
This was a next jumper that was in the shops last year, and it shows that the current desire for more fitted styles are in demand. No matter what shape you were, this little jumper would have made you beautiful, as the lovely ribbing enhances the waist, the lines would draw the waist in so that it would appear smaller. 
This pretty cardigan is from Primark, it is still a little longer – ending at the hip line, but the pretty crochet collar is a nice touch. If you intend to buy knitwear then my advice is to buy one size smaller you will find your body shape won’t disappear. 

Cable tied duo

I have completed my cable cushion! I love the texture that can be achieved by knitting, it is astounding just how many variations of pattern that can be made with two simple stitches. 
I used a very chunky yarn, in soft pale cream – it was satisfying as the knitting grows so quickly! I did not manage to copy the pattern, rather making my own using the technique. 
I chose to use crochet for the back as the tweed yarn was only two ply, I would still be knitting until next year it was so tiny! The effect of the two textures add interest. 
I always use a single crochet to stitch the cushion together, it makes a lovely edge and creates more of a contrast between the crochet back and the knitted front

As each stitch is worked together it makes the finish tidier. 
The button edging was created afterwards using crochet which handles buttonholes easier than knitting techniques. I also added a slight curve / frill to the edge. 
The crochet back is wider to create a pillowcase effect, folding over inside covering the cushion. 
While I enjoyed this project – I could not help but consider how expensive it is to knit or crochet, the wool was approximately £7 per ball! I used two balls for this project but fortunately I had the buttons in my own button box. 
So when I came across a cable scarf in a charity shop it gave me an idea…..
This cable cushion is made like a patchwork quilt with the cable squares rotated at 90 degrees. 
I zigzag stitched the edges to prevent the kitting from fraying and then used one longer piece as a flap for the back. 
I wanted a contrasting back re-using this old white jumper. The bottom edge meant I could use it for the opening – there was no need to hem the open edge. 
The back looks like this – and this cushion was made for £5. I love up cycling – it gives me a real thrill. 

A great source for cabling instructions and lots of knitting techniques can be found here

Cable tied!

Do not adjust your set, the picture is yellow! I print out my patterns in yellow to help me to read them, I am beginning to wonder though, if I might be a little number dyslexic! Pretty aren’t they? A friend of mine made each one in a lovely Aran wool and they inspired me so much I thought I might take up knitting needles again. 
When I was a child I was a fierce knitter, my barbie had the most elaborate fair isle jumpers imaginable – ok she was lucky that she did not have to move her arms, as they seemed to come up as fair isle straight jackets but I loved knitting. I would make complex patterns in my head, and stitch them out in my small scale of twenty or thirty stitches. 
One stumbling block to all knitting however, (no I won’t mention the toddler’s jumper I tried to knit after I was married, I think there was something wrong with my scale – I could produce a whole range in straight jacket knitwear, but there isn’t much call for that). I digress – my stumbling block was cabling, it looked too complex, confusing, I had seen people using short needles and could not make it out. However, inspired by the beautiful cabling in my friend’s cushion I vowed to give it a go. 
Several you tube videos later  (this one is very good) and a brief lesson from a 96 year old, I finally mastered the technique. 
This is an experimental piece, I wanted to play with the technique – changing the width of the cables from four stitches to two and creating a purl dip that you can see in the middle of the third section. I love cabling – it creates a whole different texture, one that I can hopefully explore successfully. 
I have experimented with increases and decreases, as well as twisting from the front, (knit row) to the back (purl) row. Now I have mustered the technique I hopefully picked up the needles for another great challenge – following a pattern. Hence the dyslexia, I try – I really do to follow someone’s instructions but I hit a blank – or it somehow doesn’t work. After a few rows of *following, going wrong, un picking, picking up – knitting* repeat * several times over, I picked up my crochet hook. 
I will show you how it grows until you see the finished article in the meantime see if you can guess what it is!