Glittery knitted top update

I knit really slowly, so the knitting project I started recently with the yarn I’d intended to use for a blanket hasn’t grown very much yet.  However, I wanted to show you what the yarn looks like when it’s knitted.

Knitted top, back

The glitter is quite subtle, I think.  The yarn is lovely and soft (it’s a cotton blend) and I bet it will be really comfortable to wear!

This is the back of the top and it’s a nice and simple pattern.  I just need to knit 1 row purl 1 row for 29 inches.  I can cope with that!

Charity project #17

Charity project 17
In amongst all the craft projects I’ve got started at the moment, I found time to finish a children’s scarf for charity.  I used a new stitch, and I like the pattern.  The stitch is listed as “squares in squares”, and you can find instructions here.  The steps are easy to follow.

Charity project 17 close up

This is the first charity project I’ve completed this year.  I have two other scarves on the go, along with my own projects!

My first ever home-sewn top!

Homemade top 1

(Ignore my face in this photo, I’ve woken up with a terrible cold, just to finish my ridiculously rubbish week!)

This is the craft project I mentioned yesterday that I’m super-excited to tell you about.  You read the title right; I have sewn a top!  This is something I have wanted to do for years, but I always thought it was a bit beyond my rather basic sewing machine skills.

So, what prompted this sudden change of heart?  I was watching the new series of The Great British Sewing Bee this week, and thinking about how I really wanted to sew a top myself, and I just thought that I might as well give it ago as I can do most of the things the competitors were doing for their Sewing Bee challenges.

Homemade top 7

On Wednesday I rummaged around in my fabric stash and found some pieces of fabric big enough.  I didn’t have enough of one fabric, so I’ve used a plain fabric on the back and a patterned fabric on the front.  I sort of followed the instructions on this blog, but used a t-shirt I own as a template.  I made a pattern with some paper and the measurements of the top I owned, and then used that to cut the fabric I needed.

Homemade top 6

The t-shirt I was using has a lined neckline, so I did that too (with some instruction from my Mother!).  That was probably the hardest bit of the top, as I wanted the necklines of the front and back, and the lining, to match up perfectly (they do, although I think it was luck more than talent!).

Homemade top 2

Unfortunately, as you can see from my photos, I ironed the centre line creases in really well, and I couldn’t iron them out.  Hopefully they’ll fade after I’ve washed the top!

Homemade top 3

Homemade top 4

Homemade top 5The top isn’t perfect, but I think I’ve done a really good job for a first try.  I would wear it in public, and that’s all that counts really, I reckon.  If I make this one again, I need to reshape the shoulders, but other than that I think the rest of the shape was ok.  Now I have an urge to try other patterns!

Around here

Oops, I took an unintended holiday from my blog! Sorry for not talking much this week. It’s been a bit of an frustrating week.

I’ve had a dull toothache for a while now (since Christmas), and I finally went to the dentist last Friday, which was great. She found a teeny crack in the tooth that didn’t even show up on X-ray, filled my tooth and all was well. Except now the toothache has come back again. I think it’s my jaw playing up (I have jaw problems), so I know the pain is not really my tooth. Those of you who have jaw problems will relate; the pain can manifest pretty much anywhere! I’ve met people who’ve had back pain, and it turns out it was their jaw! Drugs and a hot water bottle do the trick eventually, but it’s not very practical to walk around with a water bottle on your head, and I haven’t got much done.

Alongside this, the cat has developed a squint, which it turns out is from an ulcer on her lower eye lid. The vet thinks she’s been injured in a fight again, and now I have a gel to put in her eye twice a day. She does not like it, and now runs away if I get too close to her.

Then, to top it all off, the car has developed a rattle and now needs a new water pump. Life is expensive!

In other annoying news, my Twitter feed is broken, I’ve had a problem with an order from Forbidden Planet and neither of us know what went wrong (they’re currently looking into it) and I have two parcels at the Post Office because I missed a delivery by 10 mins.

Ok whinge over.

I have done a lot of crafting this week in amongst all of this, so I have a few things to show you, including an epic project I’m very excited about! I haven’t done much reading this week though, and I think it’s very unlikely I’m going to reach my reading challenge of six books this month. You win some and you lose some!

I hope you’re all well.

A new knitting project

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that this week I bought lots of yarn for a knitted blanket project I had in mind.  I chose Sirdar Ella yarn, because it’s beautiful and I’ve been wanting to use it for a project for ages.  The colours are gorgeous and they have little specks of glitter in them!

Sirdar Ella DK colour palette

I was going to knit squares, and then crochet them together into a giant blanket.  I had Wednesday off work, and I got started on my sample squares to test the pattern and my ideas.  Sadly, none of it worked and I gave up after a rather frustrating day.  I couldn’t get the knitting pattern to work with the crochet stitching I wanted to use, and in the end I lost patience.

I was then going to make a crochet blanket, but I already have the ripple one started, and I don’t need another crochet project.  So, I looked on Ravelry and I’ve decided to make a jumper instead.  I’m going to use the dark purple for this jumper (top left hand corner of the image above), and I’ll show it to you as it progresses.

My Mother has claimed some of the other yarns for two jumper patterns she has, and I think I’m going to use the pale pink for another jumper I have in mind.  So the yarn will get used up, but not in the way I’d originally planned!  It’s beautiful yarn, so if you’re looking for some DK for a pattern I recommend you check it out!

Goals for February 2014

My goals for February are similar to January, which should be easy – except as mentioned earlier this week, I’m doing terribly with my diet!

  • Lose 1Kg
  • Read six books
  • Buy no clothes
  • Crochet 10 stripes of ripple blanket (=30 rows)

I haven’t had the urge to buy clothes yet, which has made the “no buy” goal quite easy to follow.  It’s inevitable that something will test my resolve soon though, and we’ll see how committed I really am to this challenge!

I’m reading two long books this month, and I’m half-heartedly hoping to finish both of them.  Realistically, I will not finish Don Quixote.  It is ridiculously long and I only read little bits at a time.

My crochet blanket is coming along nicely – I might have it finished in a month or two at this rate!

Sample quilt blanket finished!

Redoing the sample patchwork blanket 7

Years ago, I bought a pack of cheap fabric squares, with the intention of using them to make a quilt blanket that I could use to test out individual stitching patterns.  The plan was to stitch each square individually with a different pattern, to practice designs and different stitches.

I started it, decided I didn’t like it, and then abandoned it.  Stitching each square in a different pattern made the blanket very random and inconsistent, and I didn’t like the effect.

Redoing the sample patchwork blanket 1

I was tidying my craft box a couple of weeks ago, and as always when I got to this blanket I wondered what to do with it.  It annoyed me that it was taking up so much space in my craft box, but I didn’t want to throw it away (in recycling!).  I took the blanket out the box and brought it downstairs to sit on a dining room chair whilst I decided what to do with it.

Ultimately, I decided to unpick the stitching I’d done, machine sew the patchwork layer, wadding and back together, and be done with it.  It’s not quilted, but it’s a useable blanket and I can move on with my life!

Redoing the sample patchwork blanket 2

Redoing the sample patchwork blanket 3

Redoing the sample patchwork blanket 4

Redoing the sample patchwork blanket 5

Redoing the sample patchwork blanket 6

I’m actually saving this blanket for when I have a dog, to put on his bed.  That was always the plan, as there’s no colour theme (and originally the stitches would have all been random).  Archie’s been playing with it, but she already has three or four blankets, and doesn’t need another!

January reads (2014)

For January, I read six books as planned.  It was a close run thing though, and I almost didn’t succeed.  I had intended to reduce the number of books I started for this month, but that didn’t work as I currently have five on the go again.  However, I’ve only started enough books to reach my reading goal for February (six books again), so that counts as being organised, right??

Be awesome: modern life for modern ladies – Hadley Freeman

This is the first book I read in 2014, which is a shame as it was quite disappointing in places. I’m not the first one to make this observation, but it’s basically a poorer version of Caitlyn Moran’s How to be a woman. I thought the author had a tendency to waffle, and many sentences were too long. Still, the book raised some interesting points regarding feminism, so it’s still an ok book to read.

Plain and simple – Sue Bender

This book is written by a lady who, after becoming intrigued by the Amish, goes to live with them for a summer on two separate occasions. The book is interesting for anyone who likes the Amish (like me), but I didn’t like something about the way the author adores them. I’m not sure “adores” is the right word – there’s almost a tone throughout her book of idolisation. At the end of the day, the Amish are just one group of people who have chosen a specific way of life. We can study their lives, but we shouldn’t put them up on pedastals. If you ignore the author’s sentiments though, it’s an interesting sneak-peak into a world we don’t get to see.

Travels with my aunt – Graham Greene

I can’t remember why this book ended up on my reading list, but I’ve been reading it on and off for quite a few months now. It really shouldn’t have taken me as long to read as it ultimately did. It’s not a big book, and it was quite amusing and insightful in places. You could easily read it in a week if you stopped picking up other books! The book is about a retired bank manager who, on the death of his Mother, meets an aunt at the funeral that he never really knew. They become companions and go travelling to various European places together, and stories ensue. It’s set in the 50s (maybe 60s?) when travel was more glamourous than it is today. Maggie Smith played the aunt in the film version of the story, which I can totally imagine!

North and South – Elizabeth Gaskell

This is one of my favourite books ever, and I thought it was time I re-read it.  I also watched the TV series twice during January (not that I’m obsessive at all…).  I love Mr Thornton – he’s totally better than Mr Darcy.  It’s also a fascinating look into the North/South divide, which Brits will know is a centuries long argument about which part of the country is better (FYI, I’m a Midlander.  Maybe I should be Switzerland, but I’m not; the North is better!).  The book is very similar to Pride and Prejudice (sort of), and basically follows the story of Margaret as her Father uproots the family from a small village in Hampshire and moves them to a mill town up north (fictional town, but thought to be Manchester).  Margaret has to learn the ways of the north, adjust to living in a town of industry and navigate the stress of family life after the upheaval.  It’s a great read!

The South Pole: 1910-1912 – Roald Amundsen

Gosh, this book took me ages to read.  Months!  Amundsen was a bit of a rambler.  Haha, I’m kidding – maybe.  He did after all go to the South Pole; he had a lot to write about.  The book’s actually really well written (and I assume well-translated).  I originally decided to read this book because I’ve naturally favoured British explorers, and therefore hated all non-Brits that have beaten us to important geographical locations.  Amundsen is doubly disliked by the British as he beat Scott to the Pole, and then Scott died on the way home (this is obviously Norway’s fault).

Having now read his biography, I have many thoughts (if you’re not a polar fan like me, skip this bit as it will be boring):

  1. Amundsen’s team were much better equipped for the journey than Scott’s team.  Sorry, Britain.  The Norwegians relied on centuries of mankind’s experience in cold climates, and therefore bought dogs and traditional skis to Antarctica.  Britain decided these people didn’t know what they were doing, disregarded history and tried to do it with ponies.
  2. The Norwegians had much better weather than the British.  This has been remarked on many times over the years, from both modelling and the diaries that all the explorers kept.  This is partly down to luck, as Amundsen chose their landing point based on where the British were landing, and so little was known about the continent that knowing which areas suffered bad weather wasn’t possible.
  3. The Norwegians had a much better attitude than the British.  This is most clearly notable in the journals.  Granted, the Brits were hungry and having a crappy time of it, but Amundsen’s journals are cheerful and full of little anecdotes about his colleagues, the dogs and the continent he was walking.
  4. In conclusion, Norway deserved the win!

On a sad note, the Norwegians – knowing they’d got to the Pole first – left a tent with some equipment they didn’t need for Scott in case his team needed anything.  Ironically, they didn’t leave any food because, having an over-abundance of their own, they must have assumed he would too.  Had they left food as well as equipment for Scott’s team, they may well have made it home again.  As it was, Scott’s team starved to death on the journey back and Amundsen’s team couldn’t eat everything they’d brought with them.  Their dogs were in such fine form when they got back to the ship that they ended up taking them off Antarctica (instead of shooting them) and giving them to the Australian Antarctica team who were going out the following year.

How to be free – Tom Hodgkinson

I read this book on a whim because it was in my local library’s digital section (most the books are fiction, which I don’t read much).  I’m really glad I did spot it, because it’s a gem.  The book is written by an anarchist who lives in the UK.  It’s about living separate from the State, making a living of your own choosing, and basically being off the grid as much as possible.  It’s mixed with anecdotes, theories, British and world history and advice.  It’s a brilliant read, and I really recommend it.

Did you read any good books in January?

January 2014 Goals recap

February has crept up on me, and now it’s the 10th and I still haven’t recapped my January goals!

My January goals were to:

  • Read six books (and reduce number of started books)
  • Buy no clothes
  • Do 10 stripes of crochet blanket (that’s 30 rows)
  • Lose 1Kg
  • Go to charity shop and get rid of stuff in garage

I’m pleased to say that I completed all five goals.  YEY!  I’ve already shown you my crochet blanket so far, and I’ll be doing a separate post on my January books.  The other three goals really don’t warrant posts of their own!

I bought an exercise bike before Christmas, so I’ve been trying to use that, and I’ve been using an app (My Fitness Pal) to track my calories.  Mostly, I need to just stop eating everything.  Haha – I suspect that’s true for most dieters!  February has been a disaster so far, but hopefully I won’t regain what I lost in January.

The charity shop trip was a success, although as soon as I went the box in the garage magically filled itself up, so I do now need another trip.  I favour Oxfam, as my local shop has parking just outside the front door so you can lug your bags in easily, and the staff are always nice.

I’ve already got started on my February goals, and I’ll be sharing them in a post later this week!

How did you do with your January goals?