Saturday, 29 October 2011

Quick Winter Woolies

Like the rest of the country, I've been feeling the cold a bit. I went to find my woolly gloves, but they seem to have disappeared into the wilds of my wardrobe. Suppose I just had to knit some new ones!

 I knitted these ones from a pattern I found here. They were brilliantly cheap to make - I used scraps from old projects, so they cost nothing. And they were fast - each glove probably only took a couple of hours to knit. It was also fun to knit stripes, which looked like this before the ends were sewn in:

Stripey chaos

Isn't the internet an amazing thing! Not only did it offer forth the fab pattern above, but while I was looking around for it, I found a whole slew of free patterns, which are bound to keep me busy for some time. One of them was this:

This was SOOOO EASY! And it only took abot 20 mins. to make. Here's Mr Needles modelling it:

And you can find the pattern here

It was also my first foray into intarsia, which was bit tricky, but it wasn't too bad - just have to be careful to keep the long strands at the back from getting too tight. 

Inside of wristband

 See you soon, and keep warm!

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Crazy Crochet Lady

I've re-re-discovered crochet. I'll explain: I grew up in 1970's in the San Francisco area, with a mother who was VERY keen on crochet, so my whole childhood was smothered in the stuff. Totally put me off, until the 90's, when it got cool again. I had collected quite a few vintage patterns by then, so I taught myself a few stitches, and made a lacy white top for wearing with my Madchester baggy jeans.

Then I went off it again. 

Until recently, when I had an irrational need for a snood. I bought some purple lurex wool from All the Fun of the Fair on a whim (it was on sale; go check it out, it's a cute shop), and decided it would have been perfect. Trawled the net for a pattern, and also pulled out my 70's knitting book, then got going!

Brilliant knitting and crochet book!

This was the result of the pattern from the net:

But purple doesn't go with everything. I need a black snood I can wear to work. (I improvised this one with a stitch from the Encyclopedia):

 What about when I'm feeling a bit Busby Berkeley? I need a silver snood:

 Now I need something nautical - a red sailor hat from the Vogue Knitting Book of 1950:

The version in the book...
......and my version. Can you tell the difference?
And now I've done so much crocheting, I have repetitive strain injury in the fingers of my left hand. I'm typing with one finger! I wake up every morning with a throbbing pain in my knuckles. But I can't stop! I'm especially enjoying crocheting on public transport - better than Sudoku, and people don't sit next to you because they think you're nuts.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Ally Pally Knitting and Stitching Show

Today I spent several hours at the huge Knitting and Stitching show at Alexandra Palace

It was MASSIVE! -
The Great Hall
 There were hundreds of stalls, representing every type of craft and needlework you could think of: knitting, crochet, sewing, quilting, braiding, tatting, embroidery, beading, spinning, weaving, buttons, scissors, and on and on. It was like a cross between a trade fair, and a big needlework shopping mall. You could buy sewing machines, subscribe to magazines, buy books on any subject, attend workshops and watch demonstrations.

After several hours, tea and cake was necessary, so I treated myself to afternoon tea in the rather over the top tea room:

Crazy wall paintings in the tea rooms - nearly put me off my scones!
 And I came away with some lovely stuff:

'New' vintage patterns - £6
Lurex thread for crocheting - £2.99

Some cute embroidery scissors - £2.99
And best of all - this Alexander Henry fabric from Fabrics Galore

This will be perfect for a gypsy style dress!

Overall, the event was pretty good, and it was great to see so many people interested in, and practicing, so many crafts. But it's that word......


 I just don't like it.

(This is the bit where I start to sound like my mother)

I sew, not because it's a hobby, but because this is how I clothe myself. I've been doing it long enough (nearly 30 years) to be pretty good at it, and I wouldn't dream of relying on the high street or designers to make up the bulk of my wardrobe. To me, this isn't 'crafty', which implies a certain folksy, amateurish, lumpiness. This is just what I do.

I feel by categorising all of the skills at the Knitting and Stitching show as 'craft', you seperate those skills from everyday fashion and they become regarded as hobbies. But fashion couldn't exist without most of these skills!

There's also a danger that these skills will become seen as luxury pastimes; I felt that many of the exhibitors, especially some of the knitting based ones, were quite expensive, specialising in silks and cashmeres, and with very little for the everyday. 

And I think that is exactly what was missing from the show - the attitude that knitting, sewing, etc, is not for everyday, just for Christmas (decorations).