Thursday, 20 July 2017

Cirque-elling

Is that not the most perfect image?
Me, in a previous life, clearly.
Not even joking.

In aerial news, I had a major breakthrough last night when I successfully inverted, unaided.
In other words, I flipped myself upside down in one smooth movement on both silks and trapeze.
This is a fundamental skill, without which progress is impossible.
And it is not the sort of thing you can practice at home.
I eyed the monkey bars at the gym this morning, wondering if I dared try a modified version, but in the absence of a crash mat it seemed like a bad idea.

I realise I have not blogged about my recent circus-themed sewing.
I bought this rather lovely inky-dot patterned cotton from Backstitch, and initially planned to make a Merchant and Mills Heron top... until I realised it doesn't have significant sleeves.


Key to my design plan was to embroider "very very CIRCUS" on the sleeve, as a sort of test tattoo.
No sleeve?  Bit of an issue.

So I decided instead to make a modified Marilla Walker Mercury Top, with 3/4 length, slightly narrowed sleeves.
It took me a full day to complete, from start to finish, including the embroidery.
Thoroughly absorbing.


It is a lovely cool top - so light and breezy  for summer weather.

I am slightly shy about wearing it in the workplace, as I feel like I am wearing my heart on my sleeve.
Ha!  If ever there was a statement to explain the curtailment of my arm-tattoo plan, that is it!

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

New Song: Magnet

OK... so I was just told I looked like I was singing along to Elton John.
Noooo!
I need to update my dancing style.

Enjoy!


Saturday, 15 July 2017

Yarn Tasting: BritSILK from The Knitting Goddess

When Knitting Goddess Joy put out a call on Instagram for yarn tasters  testers I barely paused to draw breath.

Disclaimer:  I love Joy's way with colour.  I have been a huge fan of her sock yarn for years, and have been really excited to see her experiment with new bases, with an emphasis on British wools.
So my starting point was one of eager anticipation.

And when this little package popped through my letterbox...?


I believe my exact words were:  "Oh MY!"

This is BritSILK 4 ply in the Almost a Rainbow colourway.

40% BFL, 20% Wensleydale, 20% Alpaca and 20% silk.
Each full skein will have 100g / 400m and will sell for £19.50


I'm sorry - can we pause just to appreciate that halo?
The glow and depth of colour?
And while it is fairly soft, it has a certain crispness, an underlying resilience.

And breathe...

The first thing I did was to cast on 56 stitches in the round on 2.5mm dpns and worked an inch of stockinette, as if I was knitting the cuff of a Rose City Roller sock.

The colours started to blend together on the reverse side, becoming altogether more muted.


As you can see from the photo above, I rebelled against such subtlety, whipped out a 4 mm crochet hook and ran a row of 3-stitch picots along the edge.

Oooh!  Pop Pop Pop!
I love how the rainbow came to life in crochet!

I started to imagine some fingerless mitts with some eyelets and a picot bind off...


This is still on 2.5mm needles.
The BFL-heavy base gives the yarn-overs plenty of structure at this gauge.

Ooh yes - fingerless mitts please!

I decided to play a little more and threw in some shaping and cable-crosses.


OMG those colours!
As my stitch count decreased, the rainbow definition increased.
Imagine the potential for stripey fingers!

However, I was also keen to see how the yarn played at a looser gauge.

So I took the other end of my ball and cast on 30 stitches on 4mm straights.


This is possibly a little too loose.
I would try again at 3.75mm if I was swatching for a full-sized project.

Hold it up to the light?

Yeah - a little bit too airy for my taste.

When I squoosh the stitches together you can see how this might behave on a larger scale.


It holds its shape well:  not at all floppy.
Great for pleats?
Are pleats a thing in knitting?!

OK so now I am thinking it would work well with an i-cord edging.
Something geometric...
Ooh - how about a Clincher?


Imagine the contrast of the garter stitch, with the colours blending into one another, set against the pop pop pop rainbows when the same yarn is worked as an i-cord?

Ooh yeah baby!

You want some now don't you?
Me too :)

It will be launched at Fibre East at the end of this month and Joy is adding it to the shop on Friday 4 August.
Form an orderly queue, please.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Going with the Flow

July.
The mid-point of the year has passed.

Sometimes it feels like time is running away from me, and other times it seems to screech to a halt and I am a rabbit in the headlights.

I have a terrible compulsion to over-fill my days, for fear that if I stop I will have to confront myself, and my alone-ness.
Tsk.
Sunday is my "day off" from exercise and inevitably I get twitchy and take to stomping round the fields or dancing madly to Radio One, because I cannot bear to remain still.
I find myself standing with my car keys in my hand, thinking I will just pop to the gym for an hour, because there I will find my balance again.
NO.

Union Square pattern by Mina Philip
So I try to settle down with my knitting.
All of the socks, all of the time.
I am working through the New York Sock Collection by Mina Philip.
I have finished one pair and have another two on the needles.
Two further patterns in the series have been published and I plan to cast those on soon.

Avenues Socks by Mina Philip
 And I have almost finished my first Mercury Sock, using a Baerenwolle speckled yarn in the "Birthday cake" colourway, with mad neon heels, cuffs and toes using mini skeins from Hand Dyed by Kate in "Sunglasses Not Included".

Mercury Sock
My happy place is at the circus fitness studio.
I am by far the oldest person there, but I do not feel judged.
It is hard physical work. 
One week I am better at aerial silks than trapeze.  The next time, the opposite.
I tried aerial hoop too... and it was fun... but I can't do everything.

Mermaid pose - my hand should be lower down the rope, to fall further
I discovered that I am far less bendy than I assumed myself to be.
In my head, I am still that drama student who can touch her forehead with her big toe.
Ha!  Not so much.
So I have added a vinyasa yoga class to my regime.
I was so relaxed at the end of my first class that I had to drink a strong coffee before I felt alert enough to drive home!

Flexibility and balance - much needed.
Allowing myself to go with the flow.
Letting life wash over me.
Open to possibilities.
New adventures.
Sometimes peaceful but never quite at peace with myself.


Saturday, 24 June 2017

The Need For Narrative

My recent reading has been scattered.
I start a book and think it is exactly what I need right then, that it fills a gap in my life... and then I set it aside and weeks pass by, while its spine develops a permanent crease.

In this context I am reading The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie.
I seem to be saving it for "the holidays" - a conscious decision, because it is the sort of book that deserves to be lived with and carried around to be dipped in and out of as time permits.
Time has not permitted recently.
Only a couple of chapters in, I can report that I care about these characters.
It is most definitely Scottish, written in a confiding "come sit with me by the fire and I will tell you a story" style.  Couthy?  No, not exactly.  And absolutely accessible to a non-Scottish reader.

I have been moving more quickly through my chosen audiobooks, because I can knit or sew at the same time.
Media of The Walworth Beauty
I enjoyed "The Walworth Beauty" by Michele Roberts.
It has similar themes to "The Essex Serpent":  Victorian morality, something ghostly, the place of women... but an easier read.

And then I hit a strange impasse with a couple of books I expected to love.
I won't dwell on that just now, because I don't blame the books.
It is me, not you, books.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine Hardcover  by

I became really really engrossed by "Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine" by Gail Honeyman.  I polished it off in a  normal working week, which is good going for me these days.

It is by no means my perfect novel, but it had me hooked.

I was occasionally irritated by feeling that the author wanted me to laugh at Eleanor, when my instinct was to empathise. Eleanor doesn't know the difference between a Brazilian and a Hollywood (bikini wax).
Me neither, love. 
There is the suggestion that Eleanor is old beyond her years and "out of touch"... and yet she seems pretty clued up in other ways.
The novel follows Eleanor's progress as she comes out of her solitude into the social world.
I squirmed with embarrassment on her behalf.
Oh lord, love, me too, me too!
But she is such a resilient character (for reasons which gradually become clear) that she does not give a hoot about what other people think.
Or does she...?
I won't ruin it for you by giving away the plot.
Just read it.
You might need a strong drink.
The Keeper of Lost Things
My latest download is The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan.
I have only listened to the first two chapters but I can already tell it is going to be a good companion this summer as I wander the fields in the evening sun.
The opening description of the rooms in Anthony Peardew's house made me wistful for a home to call my own.
I am still not there.
I felt inspired to throw some more energy at the one I live in now.
If anyone were to visit me, they would assume this was all of my choosing, and it really is not.
Best get on with it, Roo.
Just in case.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Sewing: A Perfectly Simple Sleeveless Top

Here we are in June and I am sewing again, for the first time this year.


Now that I have toned arms, I have no qualms about letting them out to play.
Yes, I am feeling strangely body-confident, thank you!
I might even add a tattoo... but that is a different story altogether :)

I bought two 1-metre lengths of Japanese jersey from The Eternal Maker last year (sorry - it is no longer on the website).
It was narrower than I had expected, so my original plan (long sleeved Renfrew tees) came to nothing.
As warmer weather loomed, I decided to reinvent the wheel and merge the best bits of my favourite patterns to create a perfectly simple sleeveless top.


I took the body of the Sewaholic Renfrew in a size 2.
The front neck and armholes from the smallest size of Merchant and Mills' Bantam Top.
And for the back neckline, I used the front scoop of the Cali Faye Basics Tank.
Got that? :)

The shapes were pretty easy to blend together, once I got going.

The binding is based on the Renfrew neck binding:  a 7-centimetre wide strip of  fabric, folded in half and stretched quite tightly while sewn to the neck and sleeve openings  with a 1cm seam using a straight stitch and a ballpoint needle.

I then used a zig zag stitch close to the seam (but on the main part of the garment) to hold down the two layers of binding fabric, trimming away the excess pretty aggressively.

The side seams are held together with a "universal stitch", which looks like a combination of a straight stitch and a zig zag.

My original plan was to have a curved hem back and front, but my first attempt resulted in a woeful wavy mess of ripples.
So the red and cream version has a straight hem.
Having learned my lesson, I stitched a line of straight stitching along the point where I intended to fold the fabric, then used a zig zag to secure it.


In the interests of variety, I tried a curved hem at the back of the blue and cream version.  It has a tendency to roll up, so I probably won't bother next time.

Next time?
Oh yes!
I wore these two tops time about while I was in Hull, flung them in the washing machine, and wore the red and cream one to work the next day.
Because:  summer!
They are comfortable and fit me really well, with no fear of strap-exposure, so I have no problem baring so much to the world.