Monday, August 24, 2015

Vika: the ultimate cabled sweater

Never have I read a truer sentence in a pattern description than the one that accompanied Vika: "A noble cabled masterwork..."

Yup! This ain't tv knitting, my friends - this is a masterwork, and let's be making no mistakes about that! It took a lot of energy, and I don't want to even think about how many hours, and I shall admit that there were times when I thought "Urgh! What have I got myself in for?", but now it's done both Tyger and myself are pleased as punch with the results. And if you think I'm not going to be walking around saying "Hey! Check out my masterwork!" then you are in for some A-grade serious disappointment!

Vika #4

Vika #3

Vika #5

As is always the case with Brooklyn Tweed patterns, it's beautifully written, and the instructions provide explanations for all techniques used. The one quibble I had with it was the sizing of the garments. Even thought Tyger is 11, I ended up making her a size 6, as the size 10 would have been roomy on me. Since she really wanted a fitted cabled turtleneck, we had go down two sizes. To accommodate the extra height, I just added some extra ribbing, and used the length measurements for the size 10. It fits perfectly, so I am thrilled about that, and I'm pretty sure she'll squeeze a couple of winters out of it.

I used Debbie Bliss Donegal Luxury Tweed Aran, which is 90% wool and 10% angora. The angora adds a beautiful softness to this yarn (especially noticeable after blocking), and stops the knitted garment from feeling scratchy. That's important, especially for a turtleneck sweater! Imagine her not wearing it, after all the hours of work I put into it, because it was itchy on her neck - quelle horreur!

Being a tweed yarn, it can break easily if you exert enough force, so I decided to use a dark green variegated cotton to sew the sweater up, as I figured it would be stronger than using the yarn itself. I love how very tweedy and British it looks - just the thing for striding along a Yorkshire moor in, and it's warm enough to fend off the chilliest of winds.

I'm really proud of this sweater, but I will say this: as much as I love knitting cables, I might have a rest from creating cabled masterworks for a while! Some easy, no-brainer knitting is in order, methinks!

Project Details:
Pattern - Vika by Brooklyn Tweed, made in size 6 with extra length added
Yarn - 7 balls of Debbie Bliss Donegal Luxury Tweed Aran in shade #46 (Leaf), from Woolarium
Needles - 4mm, 4.5mm, cable needle

Ravelried here.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Meet Logan, my new knitted dress!

I know, I know - it's a thing. The whole Jorth and the knitted dress, but I cannot help it. There truly is no more comfortable garment in the world than a knitted dress, and I simply can't get enough of them! And if they are designed by Kim Hargreaves, then all the better - as far as I'm concerned, she does the best knit dress designs around. Thank you Kim for feeding my, I mean love!

Logan #1

Logan #3

The pattern used was Logan from Kim's book Shadows. I knitted it up in Rowan Lima (shade: La Paz 891), which was such a fun yarn to work with. The yarn has a chain construction - I was bit worried I would constantly snag my needles on the yarn as I worked with it, but it knitted up with perfect ease. It does create quite a bouncy feeling fabric, but the cables stop it from spreading all over the place. This dress is a wonderful example of great use of design to enhance the natural characteristics of a yarn. I'm also really loving the ever-so-slight colour changes in the yarn. It reminds me of the gradual changes of colour in a summer paddock of long stemmed grass. I know that sounds a bit daft, but it's so right. So natural.

My only quibble with this dress is that it is sitting just on the wrong side of short. Normally I would wear a dress like this with stockings, but I fear that that with the fabric bounce this one would keep riding up on me, and I would be walking around like Lindsay Lohan, who doesn't seem to mind pairing rather short tops or tunics with nothing but a pair of tights and a smile, happy for the world to ogle her arse cheeks. I'm way too much of a prude for such scandalous behaviour, so I'm going to pair it with a pair of leggings and call it a done thing. If I had my time again I would have added a few extra cable repeats for the additional length but ack! it's too late now.

So there we are folks - another winter, another knitted dress! Now to plan for next years... Scorched is looking pretty good from where I'm sitting and knitting!

Project Details
Pattern: Logan by Kim Hargreaves, from the book Shadows
Yarn: 11 balls of Rowan Lima in shade La Paz 891, purchased from Woolarium
Needles: 4.5mm, 5mm, 5.5mm, cable needle

Ravelried here.

Logan #2

Monday, August 17, 2015

Monthly menu plan August/September

Fruity Oat Biscuits

Whoa! When did life get so busy? Between gearing up for Galumph's craziest work time of year, Tyger having early morning sports lessons and just life in general, I feel like I need to be super organised at the moment! Thank goodness for menu planning - it really saves me a lot of stress and pressure, knowing exactly what to buy during a big weekly shop and then having it ready to go (or even better - pre-prepped) as needed. And saves on the dollars too, as we really waste very little food this way. Win win all around!

Week One:
Monday - Roasted vegetable risotto with rocket salad
Tuesday - Veg and bean casserole
Wednesday - Bacon, vegetable and lentil soup
Thursday - Lentil spaghetti bolognaise with feta
Friday - Out with friends - hooray!
Saturday - Tofu burgers with coleslaw and wedges
Sunday - Spicy minestrone with garlic croutons

Week Two:
Monday - Risotto primavera with green salad
Tuesday - Chicken, lentil and pumpkin curry (half now, half in freezer)
Wednesday - Tuscan bean soup with rye bread
Thursday - Beef stroganoff with spinach salad
Friday - Moroccan carrot and quinoa pilaf
Saturday - Pizza pasta bake with garden salad
Sunday - Roast chicken

Week Three:
Monday - Creamy chicken pasta (with left-over roasted chicken)
Tuesday - Italian beef casserole (half now, half in freezer)
Wednesday - Potato and leek soup with cheese and salad rolls
Thursday - Pasta arrabiata with garden salad
Friday - Curried vegetable pilaf
Saturday - Vegie burgers with chopped salad
Sunday - Beany tacos

Week Four:
Monday - Spinach, chilli and tomato risotto
Tuesday - Chicken, lentil and pumpkin curry (from freezer)
Wednesday - Lemon, lentil and spinach soup
Thursday - Speedy tuna, lemon and bean pasta with salad
Friday - Roasted vegetable and quinoa salad
Saturday - Spinach and ricotta cannelloni with green salad
Sunday - Roast chicken

Week Five:
Monday - Pearl barley minestrone
Tuesday - Italian beef casserole (from freezer)
Wednesday - Silverbeet and potato soup with tomato and cheese toasted sandwiches
Thursday - Pasta primavera with rocket salad
Friday - Lemon pepper pilaf

Oh, and the biscuits? They are from the latest addition of Jamie Magazine - I highly recommend them (she says, wiping crumbs furtively from keyboard...)

Monday, August 10, 2015

Frocktails red party dress

There are Saturday nights when you find yourself in your jimmiejams, eating chips on the couch and watching Bridget Jones's Diary for the 227th time. Those nights are balm to the soul, but not something that I'd generally find myself blogging about. Or admitting to. Please don't tell anybody that I can quote that entire movie. The shame, the shame!

Then there are the Saturday nights when you get to hang out with another 50 sewing bloggers, wearing a frock you have sewn up yourself, living the Frocktails dream! Guess which type of Saturday night I just had? Let's put it this way: being eaten by Alsatians whilst listening to Sad FM was *not* on the agenda!

Red Dress #1

It was a pretty darn fabulous night, and the dresses had to be seen to be believed. It was an honour to hang out with so many talented and wonderful ladies, and I got to meet so many people that I've admired for so long. If you'd like to see some great pics of the girls and their frocks, Poppykettle took some marvellous photos, so pop on over there and drool yourself silly at the gorgeousness on display.

I had a bit of a dress disaster prior to the event. I had started making Vogue 8900, and it was all going along swimmingly until it came to doing the side vents (which was the last bit I had to do, natch). Try as I might, I could not figure out a way to make (a) the bias binding fit and (b) get the vents to sit flat. After checking out other versions on Pattern Review, I discovered this was a common problem, but that wasn't going to help me when my dress had gone from hero to zero faster then you can say "Frocktails Panic!"

I had 3 days left to make a dress. On a zero budget. And it had to look fab. What was I to do???

Like any good seamstress, I hit up the stash. I found 1.5m of silk stretch blend, and then rummaged through my pattern collection to find a party-worthy pattern. Thankfully McCall's 6320 came to the rescue - I'd already made one version of this in a green cotton a few years back, so the sewing came easily. And whilst I may have been hand stitching the lining in at 6 in the morning on the day of the event, it was eventually done - phew!

No alterations were made to this dress, although I am kind of wishing that I had gone for the pleated sleeve option rather than the plain set in sleeve. Next time! It was so comfy to wear, and I felt suitably glam, which was great - in a room full of sewing wonders, you want to feel like you measure up (ha! bad sewing pun!) to all the talent surrounding you.

And let's give a round of applause to the stash, eh? In a year of frugality, having a little extra tucked away saved my bacon!

Project Details:
Pattern - McCall's 6320, version C
Fabric - 1.5m silk stretch blend from The Fabric Store
Notions - 35cm invisible zipper, hook and eye, lining and interfacing