At last, some knitting, my summer cardigan.

 I know my blog has knitting in the title and to some that might mean you would expect some knitting content, of which I have been letting the side down somewhat.  Apart from the never ending requirements of my college course this has been the reason why there has not been that much around lately.  
I have at long last finished Featherweight Cardigan by Hannah Fettig which I knit up in Wollmeise Pure 100% Merino Superwash sock yarn in Claudia’s magical colourway Rhubarber.
Although there has not been nearly so much knitting as I would have liked of late, infact – hold onto your hats – there have been whole weeks where I simply haven’t picked up the needles,  when I have wanted or needed (for sanity reasons) to knit, this has been a great comfort to me.
It is a simple pattern, lots of stocking stitch which goes on forever and very soothing when knitting with beautiful wool which is both pretty and bouncy and soft.  
Knitting a 4ply garment is a serious undertaking by anyone’s standards, knitting a 4ply garment for my proportions is complete madness.  Casting on in August 2012, which has to be said seemed like a good idea and that I would soon have my cardigan to fight off the nasty Autumn chills, I am such a funny girl, 11 months later, here it is.
 Caught unawares having a very nice coffee.
 I quite love the cardigan, this day it was blowing a gale, the like of which being sat in the middle of the country we rarely see.  I am quite energised by gales, I love them, as long as they are not cold and have rain in them the windier the better I think.  I was glad of my cardi that day, it was just right and allowed me to trot around an outdoor market in Rugby and wander around the streets looking in the delightful little shops, without feeling in anyway chilled, which is the beauty of wool rather than acrylic, it keeps you warm even when its windy, even if it is a lightweight cardigan made from 4 ply.
Hubby and I went shopping for our new London abode today and on the way back stopped off for a coffee, which was of course lovely.  On the way back to the car we became trapped by the most horrendous rain storm, fortunately we had found very good shelter and could wave to the car but not get to it. I should have videoed this the rain came down in sheets and was very noisy, you wouldn’t think rain drops could make so much noise.  
Which is why you need a summer cardi in the UK, I was very glad I was wearing mine.

The times they are a changing.

I am undergoing a very emotional stage of my life. One of my own making and one I can’t escape.  I’m going to be leaving home, soon. 
Very soon. 
I think too soon, but we can’t leave the pad in London empty. 
(I’ll show you that when we have completed, I don’t want to jinx it)
But its not much more than a couple of weeks and I’ll be gone. 
And I feel, urrghh, anxious, for oh so many reasons that are mostly wrapped up in my children, husband and parents and a little about me of course. 
Its complicated and it hurts. 
But if I don’t take this wonderful opportunity and grasp it hard like a bunch of nettles, I will regret it for ever and a day. 
I know I have done a good job, my boys are strong and kind and are venturing forth on adventures of their own,  my husband knows how to use the electrical appliances and can cook himself a meal, so I will be leaving them in a good place, emotionally and spiritually, they are proud of me and routing for me and for that I am very grateful.
Its just me, I’m a bit of a wet blanket at the moment and its difficult to express it.
It will be fine when Uni starts and I will be busy, busy, busy and then it will be Christmas and New Years Eve will be spent cheering Big Ben in Trafalgar Square and then it will be Easter and then a year will be gone. I will have got used to the tube and the crowds and will know my way around and will recount long doggy tails of times where I was lost and couldn’t find my way around and how I was helped by some kind stranger.  And I will tell you all about the exhibitions I have seen and cakes I have eaten and the beautiful garments I have made – warts and all. 
And I know its going to be amazing and wonderful and I am going to see some amazing art and speak to some amazing teachers and it really is going to be amazing, amazing, amazing – its the UAL, the UAL for goodness sake.  And the students, well the students they are going to be so buzzy, I am going to love getting to know them and their take on life and work. 
And I am never going to be able to repeat this time in my life and I will look back on it and feel proud, that I actually did it. 
But just at the moment, its like I said, its tough. 
So even though I have got stacks to do, like start packing my life away, son no.1 took me to my very favourite place in the whole wide world, Crackley Woods.   I’ve been coming to Crackley woods since I was born, there have been many adventures including watching a certain brother fall off a bridge into the brook face first and moaning like hell that we had to go home because he was hurt!  And playing on hand made swings and climbing trees and building dens and hunting for chestnuts on windy autumn days and roasting them on the fire later.  To be honest its probably been a year since the last visit and it felt like it.
We found this excellent den, with excellent climbing organised around it, very children friendly.
 Including big children.
 My proud warrior. (at this point I am starting to dance around a little begging him not to go any higher)
 And me, I’m useless, I can’t climb anymore, I am about a foot of the floor, but it was still fun.
 I loved the den part.
 And we found this tree and it grew in a twirly fashion.
 Which I don’t think I have ever noticed can happen before.
And this is my favourite spot in Crackley Woods and always has been right from when I was a tiny wee thing, I always stop and look and breath long deep breaths of peace and tranquility whilst looking at this pathway wending its way through the woods.  As well as my family and friends, I want to take this with me as my favourite spot in my heart.

My birthday treat.

Up until very recently I have been living in a whirl wind which consisted of homework, London, housing, university, student finance and last but by no means least family life.  And to be honest it did wear me out a little, well I am an old tart you know.  Anyway as from yesterday I have finished all of my school work and just have a gentle week left to help get everything ready for the fashion show.  I can’t tell you how pleased I am that I have handed everything in including locating missing library books which were feared lost until I had a light bulb moment and sure enough they were piled in with the laundry that needs ironing in the bedroom – I like to read in bed.  And during all of that, I had to fit in my birthday.

Hubby and I trotted down to London last week in order to take measurements in my new pad only to find the banks surveyor had not returned the keys and wasn’t able to be contacted, which made us grumble quite a bit so we headed off to see an exhibition, which wasn’t wasn’t any great shakes, so I won’t waffle on about that when hubby remembered (have I told you how much I love this man) that I Knit was around the corner.  Oh my giddy aunts, we walked for less than two minutes and we were there. That was a shock to the system I can tell you.  I was so happy to be sprung with such a surprise, I am sure it wasn’t on purpose, but it was a genius birthday present – I’ve wanted to go to I Knit for ages.

 They do have some lovely yarns to peruse,  I walked around the shop, very slowly twice before decided which area I would concentrate on. 
 Such pretty yarns.
 And lots of books.
 And eventually I settled on my birthday yarn, some sock yarn Manos Del Uruguay, Alegria in A6729.  I’ve just finished a sock yarn cardigan (its blocking as we speak) called Featherweight by Hannah Fettig in Wollmeise and even though it has been on the needles for nearly a year I have really enjoyed the process of knitting something that will be nice to throw on during our English summers.  This Alegria is delightfully soft and squidgy so it is going to be a joy to knit with.
 And I knit has other talents apart from gorgeous wool, it sells wine and beers and ciders.  Which I’ve always thought was eminently sensible and partook of a strawberry cider, which was absolutely delicious and hubby had a glass or two of red wine.  It certainly makes yarn shopping even more joyful than it already is and I spent a lovely hour talking about all things yarny with the other ladies who came into have a knit. 
 I think hubby enjoyed it too.
And homeward bound, because by that time we were tired and didn’t want to carouse around London, (which was slightly shocking but its been a tough few weeks and I still had work to do)
It was a great birthday.
Do you like the new specs?!

1970’s Dress.

 I am on the final stretch of homework, so I’ll just have a little break and tell you all about my 70’s dress. 
I remember the 70’s quite well, it was a time of great contrast.  One side was of great excitement, there were new electronics, fun games, great fashion, lovely colours, new fabrics and frozen foods – findus pancake anyone?  But then there was the miners strikes, dustbin men strikes (which went on and on and on, my Dad was a dustman, it was the first time I saw him cry) power cuts which could and did go on for hours and the feeling of not quite enough heat, living in a coal fired, single glazed house that the wind blew through and having the corner bedroom meant ice on the inside of the window getting thicker by the day all winter until it eventually melted mid March.  We really knew what the seasons were like, we were out in them, playing.  Summer’s were blissful, winters were tough, even our shoes have improved so much, I remember my chilblains quite well from thinly soled leather shoes.
So when we were asked to choose a decade I thought of the 70’s immediately. 
Then I started my research, which was quite an emotional trip,  try it sometime, think of a decade that you can just remember and research it, its the greatest fun but along with that it just hurls memories at you that you had long since forgotten. 
So after a few weeks of research, printing, pasting and sticking, (mood board) I realised that what I remembered the most were the homecrafts that surrounded us by people much cleverer than I (and probably much older) my three elder brothers girlfriends could knit and sew and crochet and I can remember watching them in awe, before departing on my rollerskates/spacehopper/scooter. 
And so it was that this idea was born.  There were also twenty other ideas born, but as soon as I sketched this idea out, I knew 
A) That it was going to nearly kill me to do it and I should stop drawing immediately.
B) That my peer group were going to love it and there would be no way out. 
Well you can guess what happened, they loved it. 
1st rough sketch.

 1st draft of pattern, a toile was made of the complete dress (without the tumbling blocks) to fit one of the 2nd years and adjustments were made to the draft and then the process of drawing out began.
I then photocopied every square on the pattern.
 And began the process of adding a 1.5 cm hem to each piece.
 The completed pieces. 
I then did the same to the big cream pieces.
No judgements should be made on the fabrics chosen, the two stripey ones we had to use and the pink cotton twill and cream wool twill were chosen by myself, after trekking around Birmingham market its shops and local shops to get a good match  – I wouldn’t normally combine wool and cotton for many, many reasons but it does give a good look and the cream matched rather nicely.
Front of the dress, 
Back of the dress.
 Hints and tips, don’t use a light coloured fabric when designing for a final collection in college. Everyone is going mad and the students using dye, are not always very careful with the iron, whereupon dye can be transferred to light fabrics. 
I’ve washed it, I can still see marks.
 Front neckline, where you can see I have lined the dress.
 And the back where you can see I haven’t used a zip, I’ve just used a small open seam held at the top with a pearl button, quite elegant.  (don’t worry we have tested whether the rather thin and elegant student can get into it, she can) 
And that is it, my final piece.