Saturday, 22 December 2007

My only handmade present

This year I am slightly ashamed to admit that I only managed one handmade present. Not very ashamed, but a little bit. Normally I manage more than that, but the last few weeks have seemed very hectic and I have hardly had the inclination to think of things to make people. That has always been the problem - when I have an idea then it is all easy and I just have to figure out a way to make it, but actually thinking of that perfect hand crafted present is the real challenge.

I did manage one thing though. My housemate from University, who I visited in London not that long ago, is also a knitter. Sadly, neither of us were knitting at the time we lived together (now nearly 8 years ago, which makes me much older than I would want to admit) but since then we have both developed the habit/addiction/hobby....

And this year she is getting knitting related presents - some lovely luxuries from Purlescence and I have fashioned a needle holder for her (having duly noted comments and her discovery of 3 pairs of needles the same size, in different parts of her house, and the total loss of the size she wanted).......

Once I had conceived the idea (it took 3 weeks of deliberation and shopping and frustratingly not finding anything before the memories slotted into place and the perfect solution presented itself) it took me about 2 hours to make. And at least 30 minutes of that 2 hours was spend rummaging in boxes for the material and then searching everywhere for a pair of at least sharpish scissors. The material is an old length of silk that I bought about 4 years ago in a fantastic sari shop in Bradford, and has been waiting for a use ever since. I used some plain cotton calico to give everything some structure, and just got sewing without any particular plan.

The basic method of attack was:

2 pieces of silk and one of calico - a bit taller than my needles and about 1m long. One piece of silk needs to be about 3cm bigger in each direction so that you can make a hem at the end.
1 of silk and 1 of calico a bit shorter than my needles and the same length.

The shorter pieces were sewn together along one of the long edges, turning a nice neat hem over the top of the calico and stitching all the way through. Trim the bottom so that it all lines up nicely.

These were then sandwiched together with the longer calico and 1 piece of silk. I sewed a line along the bottom of the needle holder through all 4 layers, and then up each edge.

Then sewed a series of vertical lines to create the pockets - I did some quite wide (about 1.5 inches) for larger needles up to 15mm, and then made them smaller as I went along. There are about 20 pockets in all. Then all the edges got trimmed so that they were square and neat with no mad cotton ends everywhere.

Then I just pinned the final outside piece of silk to the pockety sandwich, made nice hems round the edge (ironed and then lots of pins) and merrily sewed round the edge.

A nice piece of ribbon sewn onto the outside makes a lovely fastening, and you have one nice and sleek and useful handmade present for a knitting friend.

I actually think every knitter needs a set of coordinating holders - 1 for dpns, 1 for straight needles and one for circulars. Maybe I'll save the rest of the material and make her another one for her birthday!

I am so enjoying being finished with work for 2 weeks with no particular plans. Not only did I get this sorted out this morning, but managed to go into town for lunch with my Other Half, clean up quite a bit in the dining room, cook soup, go shopping for chrismas treats (mmmm stollen) and purchase and decorate the christmas tree. I would be so productive if only I didnt have to work.

Friday, 14 December 2007

Not much knitting

My life feels somewhat taken over at the moment. Darn christmas! Every one at work seems to have decided that christmas is a good time to have deadlines. I have to have so much done by the end of next week it is untrue. On the plus side once that is done I have 2 weeks holiday, at home with my lovely other half. Then one week at work, then two weeks field work in the outer hebrides (I love it out there and my work involves looking at the beaches which are divine). I have booked a lovely cottage with sea views and a wood burning stove, which I am going to need because statistically it is a very bad time of year to be working out there

Yesterday was my first proper knitting time for about 2 weeks. Man flu was nearly deadly, then there was hall plastering to be done (one little bit of the ceiling left). We are trying to finish the hall and the spare room in time for our hoards of visitors at new year. It is going to be great to see some old mates but a bit tiring to get enough rooms sorted out to manage to find beds for 7 people.

But I have digressed from knitting - I about 1.5 balls of rowan 4-ply soft into a swiss cheese scarf, and having knitted the heel of my jaywalker about 5 times I finally am progressing up the end. But I had 6 hours on the train with only a little bit of work to do yesterday, so that was enough time to scheme and try different things out. It was definitely a learning experience and iI have come to understand a lot about how heels are made. Short row heels don't fit my fat ankles, I have a small gauge so there are no patterns to follow, but now I have a method and it fit's really well round on the foot, and I am made up.

My stash has also been enhanced - a couple more skeins of 4-ply soft to make a beret/sloppy garter stitch hat to go with my scarf, maybe some mittens too. A few skeins of sock yarn to go with certain new shoes in my possession, an order for some jamiesons DK in a lovely apple green so that I can make a tangled yoke cardigan, some really nice tweedy wool for something, and I have every intention of getting a large cardigan's worth of brown cashmere in the sales so that I can have a go at making a version of that gorgeous cabled cardigan out of the holiday movie.

Bring on those long dark evenings in front of the fire! I really need a holiday.