Sewchet

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Knitted Aran Jumper

Three and a half years ago, in mid February 2015, I started knitting myself a jumper – the first one since the Eighties, in fact, the first one in nearly thirty years.

Back then, I knitted lots of jumpers. All in mohair of course, as was the fashion, and all of which have long since disappeared into the ether.

Nowadays I favour a more practical yarn, one which doesn’t shed or tickle and one that washes well, so when I happened upon Stylecraft Special Aran with Wool in “Oatmeal” in our local garden centre, I bought a couple of 400g balls. A nice Aran jumper pattern also caught my eye.

Sometimes I wish I’d gone for the green in the photo on the pattern leaflet, but I figured that “Oatmeal” (aka “Beige”) would go with more things and would get worn more.

5mm needles, Aran weight yarn and a simple cable design ensured that the jumper knitted up relatively quickly.

I can’t remember exactly when I finished it, probably later the same year, but it immediately got relegated to the bottom of the wardrobe until a few weeks ago when it reappeared during a clear out.

Here it is.

I remember loving the generous ribbed roll neck…..

….and the simple but pleasing cable running down the centre front and back of the jumper.

The yarn was so nice that I even used the plentiful leftovers to make a two matching hats, one for myself and one for a present….

….and a pair of fingerless mittens for a Stitching Santa present.

So why didn’t I like the jumper?

I had set in the sleeves too tightly using a basic oversewn edge and it was uncomfortable to wear.

That was it.

Biting the bullet, I carefully unpicked the sleeves, shoulder and side seams of the entire jumper and started again.

Taking my time, I used a more appropriate method of construction which resulted in more flexible seams and a neater looking jumper to boot. A simple solution that took just a couple of hours, but one that I had procrastinated about for three years.

I was impatient to wear it but I’m naturally a hot kind of person who rarely feels the cold and rarely wears a coat, let alone a jumper. So, as soon as the weather turned cold enough this week, I gave it a try.

A freezing cold, frosty morning with blue skies and no hint of a breeze – perfect for a walk through the woods.

Knowing that a T-shirt and jumper would be more than sufficient, I confidently left the coat at home.

Even standing still whilst The Boys worked up a sweat on the rope swing, I was as warm as toast.

By now, the temperature had risen to around 6°C and I was almost too warm thanks to that cosy roll neck!

Oh, and the handknit socks that you can just see poking out of the top of my walking boots:)


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Sunday Sevens #170

Sunday Sevens is a weekly blog series devised by Natalie over at Threads & Bobbins – check out the link to see what it’s all about and how YOU can join in.

1. Despite being just too busy to go out for meals lately, we managed to squeeze in a quick lunch at our local. Not much in the way of conversation was actually had as hubby was working most of the time (note his TWO ‘phones on the table). Still, it’s nicer than our office at home:)

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2. Ham Hock Terrine with Quail’s Eggs, Piccalilli, Pea Shoots and Sourdough…..menu idea for the future B&B perhaps? It was delicious.

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3. Talking of which, I read this book from cover to cover and emerged even more impatient to get going.

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4. I don’t suppose I’ll have chance to get breakfast in bed for much longer….

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5. ….thanks Hubby!

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6. In spite of eating well I’ve managed to lose a stone without even trying. Must be all that nervous energy – either that or knitting is the best form of exercise going!

Trouble is, my clothes still fit but my watch is now too big and I never had fat wrists in the first place!

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7. A rare day out with No.2 Son. No, this isn’t our lounge, it’s Clara’s Cottage in Weston-Super-Mare museum – a cottage restored to its 1900 origins.

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8. Teaching two ladies to sew. They were dressmaking novices so it was great to show them what they were capable of with a little encouragement.

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9. The Wedding Blanket in situ – I’m so pleased it fits in with their decorating scheme.

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10. Happy Mail came in the form of these two parcels of yarn from Love Knitting. All are destined to become Christmas presents.

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11. I know what you’re thinking – why am I ordering more when I’ve still got so much on the go? Well, there has been ample progress on the WIP pile…

…the poncho is twice the size it was last week….

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12. ….I re-sewed my polo neck jumper with seams that make me happy enough to finally wear it.

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13. I finished the jumper…..

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14. …and made a matching hat, but just couldn’t squeeze any more hours out of the week to make the matching Teddy Bear’s ensemble.

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15. I’ll leave you with the cutest little model showing off her birthday present – it fits!

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Sunday Sevens #169

Only a day late, but trying to get back into the swing of things with another Sunday Sevens.

1. No.3 Son and his dance partner gained medals in their latest Latin and Ballroom competition – 2nd and 4th places in Waltz and Jive respectively.

2. It’s Somerset Art Weeks at the moment and I spent a day visiting some of the exhibitions with my sister and mother. This particular exhibition was in a converted barn on a farm where there were hungry piglets feeding.

3. My sister and I asked the artist to pose for a picture in front of some of her sketches.

4. Back home we’re still getting bookings for b+b guests well into October, so I’m kept very busy with laundry/cleaning/cooking.

5. I keep expecting business to die out for the season, but if more guests give us a bottle of bubbly from their own village in Italy as a ‘Thank you”, then I don’t mind!

6. Jumper weather isn’t here just yet, but I resurrected this make from a couple of years ago which has never been worn because I wasn’t happy with the way the seams were finished – so I unpicked them all.

7. Ready to be put back together with a better method of joining this time.

8. Following on from last week’s Christmas present make of a jumper, I cast on again.

9. This will be a really striking and unusual asymmetric poncho, also destined to be a Christmas present. And if they don’t like it – I do! This one will be hard to give away.

10. I cast on another present as well, in these two colours.

12. Progress as of Sunday night is looking good.

13. I finally wrapped up and sent off The Wedding Blanket to its new owners, who have since received it and sent their thanks.

I’m really focused on Christmas presents now and feel like I’ve made some good progress this last couple of weeks – how are you getting on with yours?


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First Christmas Present! Stylecraft Jumper #9484

As usual, I plan on making a significant proportion of Christmas presents, although with better reason this year than previously.

If you read my last blog post you will remember that we have accepted an offer on our house and, predictably, the new owners would like to move in before Christmas. This presents more than one problem:

a) we host a big family Christmas every year

b) the purchase of our new place is uncertain/complicated so we will be in temporary rented accommodation

c) we need to save as much as possible for the move

Focusing on ‘c’ means handmade will need to preside, and on a budget, too. All you Makers out there will know instantly that the two, ‘handmade’ and ‘budget’, don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand as raw materials are often very expensive. That said, if I research carefully, I should be able to find some bargains – and my time is free (only when making presents!).

And so, on to my first Finished Off!

This 200g ball of Batik Swirl yarn in ‘Rainbow’ by Stylecraft cost just £8.99, and the pattern #9484 an additional £2.99. It’s an 80/20 mix of acrylic/wool so will wash well.

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Because the yarn is self-striping, it makes for a quicker knit and all that stocking stitch in the main body is pretty much a mindless task in front of the tele of an evening.

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The sleeves are a Godsend after some boring knitting and you relish the thought of a bit of cable to keep up the momentum.

Yes, I know it all looks a little weird because of the lack of symmetry in the colours, but stay with me….

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I’m pleased to say that I have mastered the art of seaming and will admit that many a jumper in the past has lain in the depths of my wardrobe, unworn, due to bad finishing.

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Not any more – how neat is this?!

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All the ends woven in….

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….and a label sewn in craft-style for good measure.

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A quick steam-block and here it is.

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Obviously, the back is different to the front, but I rather like that.

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Close up of the cabled sleeves.

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So there you are – first Christmas present in the bag, so to speak, and for the bargain price of £11.98.

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How are you getting on with your handmade gifts this year?


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Handmade Birthday Presents

It was my sister’s birthday on Monday and she had previously dropped a heavy hint for some more fingerless gloves, as hers (also made by me) had seen better days.

You may remember the knee length socks I made her for Christmas…..

….well, I had enough left over wool to make a matching pair of fingerless gloves – so I did!

I had also been inspired by some handbag charms by Tamsyn G on Instagram.

I absolutely love these and decided to use up some bits and bobs to make one for my sister. It was a totally organic process with no plan whatsoever, and this is what I ended up with.

Where Tamsyn G makes her own buttons, I used one from my button box.

The large end bead is from a broken necklace.

This fabulous ‘safety’ pin was in my Stitching Santa parcel, as was the ‘handmade’ tab.

Some hand embroidery on the surface adds extra texture.

Here it is on my bag, to give a sense of scale.

And here they both are on my sister/bag:)

I know, it’s utterly pointless but, as pointless things go, it’s bright and cheerful and I wouldn’t mind one on my bag, so I may cave in to the urge to make another.


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Sunday Sevens #158

Linking up with Natalie at Threads & Bobbins for another Sunday Sevens…..

1. Week two of the Easter holidays started with us taking The Boys out to Hauser & Wirth in Bruton. No.2 Son looks bored, but he assures me he was just concentrating on the art commentary.

2. Afterwards in the bar…..serves me right for asking them for a nice photo for the blog!

3. We spent a day clearing some 8ft high undergrowth, helped by some appropriate refreshment.

4. A good day’s work!

5. Found this little nest amongst the brambles – don’t worry, it wasn’t currently in use.

6. Just a cute pic of my boy and a spoiled Tess!

7. There’s nothing like a bone to help you get your appetite back.

8. We have been fully booked for seven out of the last nine days with three different lots of guests, each booking both rooms. Our last guests were celebrating a birthday and were over from Belgium, so we surprised them with a traditional English cream tea – homemade, of course! They were delighted:)

9. After the rooms were cleaned and the washing was on, I sat down for the first time in what felt like days and had my own private cream tea whilst The Boys were at football.

10. Then it was back to our normal healthy eating.

11. The Boys enjoyed their second knit ‘n’ natter and can’t wait until half term when they can go again.

12. No.2 Son (in his new hat) bought some new yarn and has started making himself another crocheted blanket, this time in a more pre-teen colourway of blue and grey. Meanwhile, his little brother had picked up his blanket again after a long break.

13. She doesn’t read my blog, so I can show you the fingerless gloves I made for my sister’s birthday today. They match the socks I made her for Christmas with those see-through wellies. Free pattern is here.

14. This little knitted outfit was finished for the doll I’m dressing for the school fair in June.

15. Cardigan, hat, leg warmers and fingerless gloves, a paid for pattern by Knitting Nanny-Mo on Etsy.

16. Isn’t it cute?

17. I shall leave you with one very happy clucking hen!!


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Bellagio Shawl – Tadah!

You may recall that I went to the Unravel festival in Farnham a few weeks ago, and these are the skeins of yarn I came home with. Very restrained, I think, considering I could literally have bought something from every single stand had money been no object!

I bought the Bellagio shawl pattern from Debonnaire Yarns and planned to use the yellow yarn for it, which is a laceweight Ainsworth Prin bought from The Knitting Shed, 80/20 Baby Alpaca & Silk.

There’s something special about skeins of yarn as opposed to the balls that are more readily sold. I love the process of transforming it into a yarn cake, too. All part of the pleasure of hand knitting, I suppose.

I used a 3.75mm circular because I didn’t have the 4mm one that it required, so the final measurements were slightly smaller than those listed.

The border was an easy-to-memorise 16 row lace pattern and, unusually, it was an asymmetric design.

After completing the main border, I made a spontaneous decision to change the colourway and add in the navy yarn bought at Unravel. Making it up as I went, I included three golden stripes to break up the navy and add interest.

The ‘feel’ of the original pattern has totally changed but, as I wear mustard and navy together, this combination in a shawl made perfect sense.

The construction is slightly unusual, but I like the asymmetry of it which is enhanced by the three stripes.

A little under two weeks, and it was nearly finished.

I really must get some blocking pins, but until then, I’ll continue to use dressmaking pins and a towel on the dining table.

Here’s the finished shawl, laid out over the back of the sofa.

I did make several mistakes in the lace – not that you’d notice as the pattern is very forgiving.

Being laceweight, the shawl has a light texture and drapes beautifully.

It’s nice and warm around the neck, without being constrictive as it’s so light that you don’t really notice you’re wearing anything!

It’s already drawn lots of compliments (shawls do, don’t they?) and goes well with my Stag’s head dress – a favourite which is bearing up well considering how often I wear it.

The thing about hand knitted shawls is that you simply can’t buy them, which is why they get noticed, I suppose. I love having something unique….which is why I can’t wait to cast on another one with some more of that lovely yarn from Unravel:)