Sunday, 7 December 2008

Lisa, don't read this post

You never know who might be out there. Anyway, this is my version of the Ubiquitous Cardigan Refashion . There's ooh at least a zillion out there, but none of them (as far as I know) are for Lisa's daughter, shortly to turn two.

I grabbed this jumper at a clothes swap. It's lovely wool, but was a bit misshapen and had holes in the elbows. No one else wanted it (well, why would they?) and it didn't really even seem charity shop - fit.
But I could see the potential! So I shrank it. And then I cut the sleeves shorter. And then I cut it open up the front. Oh look, did I mention it's DKNY?
Using the sections I cut from the end of the arms, I made two little elbow patches and some pocket shapes.
I have a whole world of ribbons, some left over from my wedding (five years ago), others from whenever I can grab them. I tend to leave other people's weddings with all the ribbons from their gifts too. I have no shame.
So, I went through my ribbons looking for something perfect. I was close with a dark pink, but it was quite narrow, and I couldn't find a good coordinating button, so the lilac came out on top. I think it would be quite self defeating to go out and buy lots of new notions for a refashioning exercise (not that that would stop me), so it was good to just go with cupboard staples.
The jumper felted up so well there was no need to hem anything, so I just sewed the ribbon over the tops of the pockets, and round the edge of the jacket.
I'm not sure what made it go a bit ruffly, but it's a lovely effect, so let's call it serendipity. I made some little flowers out of another felted jumper - a cashmere one of my dad's no less, and sewed on a button, button loop (out of some silver ribbon) and the pockets. I won't put a picture of the whole thing up until it gets there though.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Something for me

So I decided to make something for me. I don't often do it, mostly because I had a formative experience at a Get Knitted sale when they were still in a warehouse and only opened once a month. There were a lot of women there who had really got quite carried away with the home made thing and who were firmly of the opinion that really more was more.

Anyway, I was in Ikea and saw beautiful upholstery material and thought 'I know, I want to look like a sofa'. So I made a skirt out of it. I bought a whole metre, which was, I think, £2.99. It was more than I needed for the skirt, because it was quite wide, but I wanted to make sure that I could get the bird pattern going across nicely.

Once again, I drew round something I already owned. Unfortunately, I hadn't worn the skirt for a while, so I hadn't realised how much weight I'd put on, and how small it would be. I really do look like a sofa, when an armchair would be so much preferable.

Don't ask how I put the zip in. I think I called upon dark forces to cobble it together. And then I had to use a hook and eye so it didn't undo. But this only occurred to me after it had already undone a number of times.

This is the back. I even sewed vents and things in so it fits nicely over my bottom.

And because the bird is a bit high up on the front, I kind of have to tuck my jumper in. But I am SO pleased with it - it gets lots of comments, so I must have done something right. Mostly, I think, pick good material.
Only problem is, I didn't think about the fact that things are backwards when they're inside out, so the zip's on the wrong side.
And then, not content to rest on my laurels, I made a dress for my friend's little girl. I used an old pattern I've made lots of times before, but I can't remember what sort it is. I kind of adapted it - like by scaling it up to fit a two year old, and using two sorts of fabric. I wonder how the intellectual property works with that?
As ever, I forgot to take photos as I went along, although to be honest, I also forgot how to make it as I went along, and ended up unpicking it about 6 times.
You can't really tell from this, but it's kind of latte coloured corduroy, lined with African print cotton from Brixton market. I just tried to link to Brixton market, but it doesn't have a website. Someone needs to get onto that please.
I've made this dress a few times like this, and it works really well. Because you have to line it, I thought it would be really bulky with two layers of cord. But one is fine. And it stops your child looking too much like a geographer if it's not too cordy.
And because presentation is 90% of the battle (clearly, military strategists might disagree with me on that, but on the present front, I'm willing to stand my ground), I put it in a little bag and did it up with the same button. You're never too young to accessorise.
When Child A was little, a friend of mine used to look after him for me, when I went back to work. She had a little girl the same age, and when he, inevitably, had accidents, she would dress him in her clothes. I remember him being a vision in pink velour dungarees, and demanding his hair be put in bunches. When I tried to get Child C, who is the same size as the intended recipient of the dress, to try it on, he got really distressed, and tore it off. And it's not even pink. It's amazing how different two little boys can be...

Monday, 24 November 2008

Haven't I been busy

Right, so, lordy knows what I've been doing for the last however long.

Some of it has involved work. I think half term might have come in there somewhere. I went to a conference at Fire Service College so was away for the best part of a week with a pool, running, bar and an awful lot of carbohydrates. They do like carbs those fire fighters. I except the boys were ill.

However, I have also been doing lots of SEWING. I am very excited about sewing at the moment - it's so much quicker than knitting! It's the perfect instant gratification craft, and the longer the Phd drags on for, the more instant I like my gratification to be.

So, I've made some good kids' stuff, for mine and for other kids.
Child C is potty training at the moment, and every time we change him, he demands red trousers "my wear red trousers now mummy / daddy / insert name of temporary carer". He doesn't have red trousers. I did try and find him some, and got quite close in H&M. But they had hearts on them, and appeared to be bootleg. He's not that in touch with his feminine side so they weren't really an option. I had to make some.

Needless to say, there weren't any decent patterns for little boys trousers either, so I was forced I tell you to resort to the tried and tested 'drawing around a garment that fits' technique.

I think it worked - this is how I did it:

First, I drew round some trousers onto the wrong side of some red corduroy with nothing less than the sort of chalk you do pavement art with. Sorry, in my boys case, pavement 'art'.
F is front, B is back. the regular rectangle is for the waistband and the funny shape for the pocket.
At this point, I will warn you not to economise on fabric by folding it a different way - my nap runs in a different direction on each leg, giving a pleasingly harlequin type effect.
And why thank you, it is a nice rug isn't it. It's Iraqi, but we got it in Jordan quite a long time ago.

Then I ironed all the hems into the waistband and pockets. This is easier than pinning, and also I don't like people to think I can't iron, it's just I can't see the point except for sewing.
And then I sewed it all together. And in my haste for instant gratification (it's a drug you know) I forgot to take any pictures until they were done. But basically, I sewed the pockets on to the front, then sewed the legs together like in the dragon suit. Then I cocked about with the waist band because I didn't know how to do it. I'm not sure I did it correctly, but they stay up, aren't too bulky and were a whole new voyage into half elasticated waistbands.
See what I mean about the harlequin effect?

Friday, 3 October 2008

Enter the Dragon: Part II

So, as promised, here is the top bit of dragon suit. Or Doot as it's known in the Kinkatink household.

Find an appropriate garment to draw around (like a hoody). I only drew it onto newspaper because I thought I didn't have enough fleece left and so spent ages working out the optimum arrangement. As it happened, I didn't have enough fleece left, so I had to go back to Ikea and get another bit, so I could have just drawn straight round the fleece. Doh.

If you're sewing spikes in, you have to remember to sew it up in a funny order, and to cut the back piece in half (allowing a little bit for seams as well).

The order I did was:

  • Shoulder seams
    Arms on
  • Hood pieces on
  • Spikes in and under arm seam together
  • Spikes running up the back

  • Then I thought it was missing something, so I sewed a 'tummy' on. This has brought great critical acclaim from Child B, who rubs it convincingly, going 'Yummy dragon tummy' like he's just eaten something particularly delicious.

  • It also looked a bit raw at the front, so I sewed a bias type tape of the orange fleece around the hood. If you wanted to be a bit less full on, using the main colour would work well too - although with fancy dress, I would err on the side of 'more is more'. It does have a bit of an 'Oh my god they killed Kenny' look about it now, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

  • Here is the dragon in action. Being a creature of mythical power, he's rather hard to catch on camera. At least that's my excuse for the poor picture. Below he has been subdued by his fearful adversary Brave Sir Dander. Or Siddhartha as a friend of a friend thought he was called.

All in all, these two costumes were probably three evenings work - less if I hadn't had to keep remeasuring and had just gone and got a second bit of material. Child B loves his so much he sleeps in it, and Child A, although less effusive, seems fairly chuffed with his too. Time well spent.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Fancy dress

My lovely boys have been invited to a friend's daughter's 4th birthday party. All very lovely, but the invite had those two little words that strike fear into so many mothers' (and the occasional fathers) hearts: "Fancy Dress".

I work full time. I have 2 children. I've just come back from my holiday. Needless to say, I have to make EXCELLENT outfits for the 2 of them. I think it's something about compensating for the working.

Child A's current obsession is with knights (in a suit of armour, dragon vanquishing sense, rather than in a throw back to feudal heritage), so his was an obvious choice. Skinny polo neck from a charity shop, grey tights with the feet cut off and some handy work with some tin foil and you're away (photos to follow).
But what for Child B? A-ha, a dragon. I had some fleece material left over from a summer project of making camping suits, so thought I would run up a dragon outfit, complete with spikes. In the interests of the sisterhood, I thought I should share, so here are instructions. (NB: I've never done instructions before, I know I'm not a great teacher and I got so carried away I kept forgetting to take photos. Sorry.)

These are the fleeces before I hacked them up. They were just cheapy blankets from Ikea. I'm not sure if it works out cheaper than buying the yardage from a fabric shop but, wierdly, Ikea is closer than the fabric shop, and (sorry Fabricland) they have better colours. These, if you can't tell, are a rather fetching lime green and Guantanamo orange.

Then you make your spikes. I cut the long edges off, put them together and sewed a line of zig zags just off centre. Then I did it again to the other off centre. As I was using yellow thread, you can barely see, but there they are. Then cut CAREFULLY between the lines and fold each one the right way round.

Look, spikes.

Now for some pattern cutting. I do this by finding clothes that fit the correct child, and cutting round them. Trousers (especially for a nappy wearing child) are dead easy. You just need 4 bits the same. Sew them together at the inside leg, then outside leg - not forgetting to put in the spikes.
Turn one the right way round and put inside the other (basically so they are still right side to right side) then sew round the groin.

Don't forget your tail.

I made a top too. That's for another time though!

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Three times the excitement

So, today is exciting for onetwothree reasons.

First, I got pictures of my green leafy lacey blanket in situ. Not even a week old, and already sporting such stylish knitwear. Interestingly though, her mummy has put it ninety degrees clockwise to how I would have done. Still, I couldn't possibly comment, firstly because it's a gift, and once they're gone, they're gone, and secondly because it wouldn't do to comment on anyone's (quite obviously terrible) parenting...

Second: new Knitty with the most fantastic Op Art Blanket and some lovely lace patterns. Clearly I have something for knitting leaves, as the
leafy socks are pretty cool too.

Third: I'm now on my hols (dances little jig). We're off to Croatia for some loverly sunny sunshine. I've packed so many books I don't have room for clothes and I'm taking lots of Noro yarn ends to make some Christmas hats with. No pictures yet as wouldn't want to spoil surprises. The boys will just have to entertain themselves with a stick and half a biscuit. See you when we're back.

Sunday, 7 September 2008


The baby blankets have been going on for a while - even before I found out that nearly everyone I know is pregnant, I had a couple on the go. When we had the last population explosion with all the second babies two years ago, I thought I would never manage to give away everything I'd knitted, but somehow it all went (actually, some of it stayed for my little boys). So, presciently, I started stockpiling again and inevitably, the friends started procreating again.

I like knitting baby blankets. They're not too much of a commitment, and you can never have too many. They're a good way to work out about new techniques without having to cope with a pattern too. For a while I was really into cable. Now it's lace and raised styles. I think it's fun to take elements of different patterns and combine them together in different ways. Fun obviously depending on personal preference. They make lovely gifts too, and that's the most important thing. A home made and unique present is the best way to welcome a home made (or maybe hotel / car / beach made - who am I to judge) and unique little person into the world. They'll get enough mass produced consumerism over the course of their lifetime.

This one was my first foray into lace. It's the pinky blanky from Knittingjuju. Her's is made with huge wool on huge needles. I just used Rowan Soft Baby (again) in yellow on little needles, and followed the chart. Just about. I went wrong in a couple of places, but mostly I'm very pleased with it - especially as a lace virgin. I imagine there'll be more lace to come.

These are the little geometric leaves in close up, although they seem slightly more 3D in real life. I was completely captivated as I knitted this at the process of creating leaves and watching the pattern unfurl.

Definitely not a social knitting project however.

This was a social knitting project though (or one for drink knitting - particularly suitable for red wine, being dark and acrylic). I started these to contribute to the Oxfam Maternal Mortality Campaign but then realised I had missed the deadline, so just sent them a donation instead. It was such a great idea for a campaign - a knitted petition to highlight deaths in childbirth.

In an attempt to reduce my yarn footprint, I used up ball ends and did half mitred squares. OMG - maths and knitting. Genius! I just love how you start with a straight line and it ends up going round a corner.

This is a close up of my favourite square. The photo doesn't really do the colours justice - they're all rich, jewel like colours that have that lovely sparkle you only get in squeaky shiny acrylics. I don't even know what the original projects were that resulted in such funny remnants. Still, they made a sweet little blanket.
I did a couple of rounds of crochet (Thanks for teaching me Amy!) around the edges to make it a bit bigger and to bring the colours together.
This last one is really a terrible photo, which is a shame because it's a lovely blanket. It's loosely based on the Stitch n Bitch big bad baby blanky, so moss stitch round the edge then 4 big stocking stitch squares. It's knit in lovely soft woolly wool which I got in Penrith last year whilst visiting my great aunt and uncles. I was going to knit Child B a jumper, but by the time I came to it, I suspected he might be too big for the balls available so turned it into a blanket.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

And so it begins

My good friend Estelle just had her baby (a little girl) so I got to send off the first of probably ten baby blankets I'll be knitting over the next few months. My friends appear to be undergoing something of a baby boom, and whilst it's making me hugely broody, I'm having to subsume any thoughts of having my own baby into making blankets for everyone else.

It was based on the Lace Leaf Wrap by Janine Le Cras. One day I'll know how to hide those links. I can do it in Word. Why isn't it the same? I knitted it in Rowan Soft Baby, which is, for some reason, discontinued. I've been trawling the web for yarn shops that have remaining stock as it's so lovely to knit with.

It was one of the hardest things I've ever made! Three different charts, all with repeats at different intervals, and in way smaller yarn than I usually use.

Definitely, definitely worth the grief though.