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Archive for December, 2011

After all the glove knitting, carboot sale looting and Christmas decorations, it was time I returned to some Visible Mending. Here are three new items I entered for the Visible Mending Programme. May I present to you the classic darn: socks!

From left to right: my partner’s house socks, a shop-bought sock, my house socks.

First up are my partner’s house socks. I knitted this from left-overs of my Elizabeth Zimmermann Bog Jacket and I had only just enough left for making these. Hence the contrasting cuffs, heels and toes. For the lanaphiles amongst us: the brown yarn is Manx Loghtan wool, the grey is Jacob – I bought both from Garthenor Organic Pure Wool. The darns are made with Lang Jawoll sock wool.

As you can see, I employed two different methods of darning. On the left heel you see the classic stocking darn. This method is good for fixing holes. However, I noticed some thin patches too, so I decided to reinforce those with Swiss darning (also known as duplicate stitch), shown on the right heel and the sole top left. If you look closely, you can see I even managed to duplicate the decreases used for turning the heel.

The second sock I repaired, was a sock I bought before I knew how to knit socks myself – all those needles sticking out in all directions, I thought I’d never be able to cope with all that! They’re made by Hirsch Natur. I counted the gauge once, and I make socks of a similar weight myself now.

I used some mending wool I picked up in a sale somewhere. It turned out a bit thinner than anticipated once I got going, so I decided to add some extra warps and wefts. Some mending wools tend to felt a bit (despite their high nylon content), so I don’t think you will see this pretty ‘basket weave’ for long.

I wasn’t quite sure what to do with the last pair of socks. They’re Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Moccasin Socks. As ever with EZ, the design is out of the ordinary – here, she designed a sock pattern with a completely reknittable heel and sole. And therein lies the rub: however much I like the look of them, unusually, I did not enjoy knitting the heel and sole. At all. But I used 100% Shetland wool for the sole and that isn’t particularly hardwearing, so I needed to do something about those thin patches and the tiny hole that started developing. In the end I opted for Swiss darning. It makes good practice and I like the colour combination with the black and navy (which, incidentally, is warm and woolly lustrous Wensleydale longwool).

A parting note: the keen observer may have noticed something in herringbone-weave lurking in the background of some pictures. I hope this will lead soon to my very first INvisibly mended item!

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Following on from my previous Three Paper Christmas Decorations post, I will now present to you: paper cut-outs, more paper cut-outs, even more paper cut-outs (which, for the discerning reader, actually makes a total of four different paper decorations) and no Christmas tree. So, following on from the gorgeous sheets of paper I bought a while back, here is the second one:

I cut around the Santas, and then glued them onto card (thank you, spray mount). By doing it this way, it is easier to cut the precise shape of the Santas and card in one go. As I used permanent adhesive spray mount, I didn’t have to worry about gloops of glue. By cutting around the Santas before mounting, I knew the glue would go all the way up to the edge. After that I stuck on some ribbon to make Santa hangers. My partner has hung them all over our flat!

The last sheet of paper shows a collection of cutlery. It’s not your traditional Christmas decoration, but as both my partner and me thoroughly enjoy cooking and eating it appears festive to us:

Following the same process as with the Santas, I cut out the individual forks, knives and spoons. This time I used a scalpel, as the tines of the forks are rather more intricate than the Santas, and I didn’t want to get them dog-eared by using scissors. I then attached random lengths of sewing thread on them and hung them from a bamboo cane affixed to the picture rail. Unfortunately, the pictures of the ‘installation piece’ in situ didn’t come out very well, here’s the best one I got:

Appropriately, they hang above the dining table. My guess is, that these will remain in place well after Christmas, as I really like the effect. They don’t all hang flat against the wall, and so sometimes twist to show the back. I used card in different colours, and the silhouette of cutlery shapes is instantly recognisable, so I quite like the effect of silhouettes mixed with realistic looking cutlery.

I managed to sneak in another cut paper project for decoration, for which I used plain white paper. It’s the perennial kindergarten favourite: the cut paper snow flake. I hope I don’t have to explain how to make those. (post-posting note: as you can see in the comments, not everybody knows how to make paper snow flakes, so here is a video tutorial)

This year we decided to leave the Christmas tree at the market stall, and settled for a few branches of spruce, holly, and, erm, tulips. Add some candles and I think you’ll agree that even without a tree, our living room looks suitably festive!

*M*E*R*R*Y*  *C*H*R*I*S*T*M*A*S*

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Ever since I moved out of my parents’ home, I have been making my own Christmas decorations. There was the Christmas tree with marshmallows as baubles (which slowly but surely sagged into the needles – impossible to get them off again to eat them), the cut-paper snow flakes on the window, the knitted Christmas stockings, and the felt stars with embroidered snow flakes.

This year I will NOT be knitting Christmas baubles, however many friends are expecting me to. Perhaps I have a contrary streak in me? Instead, I’ll be fashioning my decorations from these gorgeous sheets of paper:

I started with this beautiful silver print paper, which I think will make very festive Christmas baubles:

I cut the large sheets (I think they are about 50x70cm) into squares, and then did some clever origami folding and turned them into ‘balloons’. There are plenty of on-line tutorials to be found, here’s one that takes you through all the steps in great detail.

I have made many of these balloons ever since I was a kid, and it still feels a like a little magic how a square of paper can be folded and blown up to turn it into a balloon, just like turning a heel on a sock still delights me. In order to be able to hang them up, I tied a cocktail stick to a piece of ribbon and inserted this through the little hole and then tied the two tails into a bow.

What a beautiful cluster of baubles!

Keep an eye out for the next few posts to see what else I have made. What Christmas decorations have you made this year?

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On one of the last nice Sundays of November, I went to the Brighton Car Boot Sale at the Marina with my friend John. He always manages to find the most amazing things. He has developed an eye for glassware and often finds Georgian and Victorian decanters, wine glasses and whatnots for a few pounds, which he then sells on for good money. I, however, am not that lucky, and this is what I found at the “dead old ladies stall”, as John calls it:

It’s a strange collection of patterns. Some are printed, some are written down, some are for knitting, some are for sewing. I’ll take you through my new collection – I wish I had known the lady who owned these, because as you will see, there are some things that contain a story untold.

First up, what I would call the boring stuff. Printed leaflets:

A rather mundane collection of Aran knitting patterns, baby matinee jackets, baby booties and raglan twin sets. However, I like the Emu booklet: Ideas For Those Odd Ounces. It contains a total of 32 patterns, including cuddly toys (I particularly like the donkey – you can see it better if you click on the picture and zoom in), some tea and coffee pot covers, child’s garments, hats, scarves, cushion cover, and something you wouldn’t see nowadays for obvious reasons: golliwog mittens. I want to frame the magazine clipping of the ‘knitteds for a baby doll’, I like the graphic design of it.

Secondly, there are quite a few written down patterns:

Most of these are for dolls’ clothes, but one I mistook for a cooking recipe, as it is titled ‘lamb chop’, but I soon realised my mistake when I read the ingredients list; it starts with ‘ 2 x 50 gram balls DK, no. 9 needles”. You can see it at the top. I’m most curious to find out how that will knit up!

The original owner of this little collection used to be thrifty, as evidenced by what I originally thought were just ordinary Christmas and post cards:

However, on the backs you can find more patterns scribbled down, and a list of cable abbreviations. I think it is a nice way of using old cards, as it reminds you of the sender every time you use it. The kitten card actually has a ‘rabbit dress’ pattern on it. The Christmas cards in the middle have been sewn together with a few neat stitches.

Thirdly, we have a collection of sewing pattern pieces. There are teddy hand puppets, a donkey and a hat. Some of these are well used, as you can see by the many pin pricks. My favourite must be the turtle pattern, and it has a little rhyme on it: “Hi! / I’m just a little turtle / who knew not what to do / so I filled myself with scented soap / and swam right up to you. / Just rub me on your tummy / and your hands & feet / around your neck & ears / and don’t forget your seat! / when you are through / my work is done /  you’ve had your bath / I’ve had my fun!”

I can just imagine how this lady made dolls’ clothes and hand puppets for her grandchildren. I wonder if she would stage a little puppet show with them?

The last item is an envelope. It contains a little clump of uniform lengths of white yarn, and some short pieces of ribbon. I wonder what this was going to be used for, and why she thought this was worth saving in a battered envelope. Perhaps if I read each pattern in detail, I will find out – in which case I will let you know!

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