Vintage sock… gorgeous yarn and much more (a long update)

A finished vintage sock!

Fear not, it’s not an old sock!

This is going to be a lengthy update, since I haven’t been around in a while. Grab a tea or coffee and read on..

SOCKS

In one of my usual charity shop stops I found some lovely vintage wool yarn, just a tiny quantity. The colours were lovely – you know, the kind of 50/60s shades – so I got it anyway.

Now, I’ve been wanting to make socks for a long while, but actually never gave it a go. Until, while reading my usual blog posts, a fabulous tutorial on sock making came up – just what I needed to motivate me to attempt the task!

Winwick Mum’s Sockalong is truly well done, illustrative and clear, with step-by-step instructions and tons of pictures. Just what a new maker needs! She has done a great job with this tutorial – if you plan to try sock knitting out, that’s an outstanding resource and I can warmly recommend it. Did I mention it’s free (including the pattern)?

After long – my spare moments are pretty limited – last night (wee hours) the first sock was ready… and fitted perfectly! I’m so happy with the results (thanks to WM’s tutorial). They’re not perfect but I think they’re pretty good – anyway, judge for yourself!

A finished vintage sock!

A finished vintage sock! (Ok, it’s not fully finished here… I forgot to take a pic after grafting the toe and the rib)

Sock-in-progress.. just the toe left

Sock-in-progress.. just the toe left. See the pretty vintage yarn?

Sock-in-progress, the heel is turned

Sock-in-progress, the heel is turned

Sock-in-progress, the heel

Sock-in-progress, the heel

Sock-in-progress

Sock-in-progress, with notions and notes!

Sock-in-progress, the heel flap

Sock-in-progress, the heel flap

My first sock, the beginnings

My first sock, the beginnings

YARN PORN

After the recent fire, I allowed myself to do some yarn shopping.. naughty of me, as I have neither space to store it nor budget, but sometimes, you know, one just needs to treats oneself to lift spirits… I think I deserved it.

So let me show you some gorgeous yarn…

Wensleydale and Shetland 4 ply by The Knitting Goddess, one skein each of Slate and Green (picture from TKG’s shop as I still haven’t the wool with me):

Wensleydale & Shetland 4 ply yarn by the Knitting Goddess in Slate

Wensleydale & Shetland 4 ply yarn by the Knitting Goddess in Green

The yarn, a blend of 85% Wensleydale and 15% Shetland, is grown, processed, spun and dyed in the UK, and has a high twist for extra strength. If I could, I would buy all of it (ok, maybe not literally ALL – there’s not enough room in the flat). Here you can see all of the available colourways.

One Farm Yarn, also by The Knitting Goddess, in Flower Power (of course, with such a name I couldn’t pass it):

One Farm Yarn 4 ply by The Knitting Goddess in Flower Power

One Farm is a genuinely Yorkshire yarn!

Here you can see the many pretty shades (variegated, solid or semi-solid) and the interesting story of the yarn and its (local) production: a journey of 72 miles in Yorkshire from sheep to dye pot. What’s not to love?

As you can see, I’m a sucker for blues and greens, although lately I’ve been lovingly looking at natural shades and tones of browns too. But budget is limited, so that was it for now.

NEW FIREPLACE

In other news, this week a new fireplace was delivered and now we need to get workers to remove the old and put the new one in. It’s limestone in Deco style. It was quite a (costly) adventure to get it from the curb side into the flat: we had to get helpers to lift and carry the dead heavy but very fragile limestone pieces. They were amazing, but it came to over £100 for less than half an hour work. There was no way we could do it ourselves, at about 100 kilos each side piece… at least, we got it cheaper because it was ex-showroom. Here you can see a showroom image of The Faulkner fireplace.

The Faulkner fireplace by Chesney’s

LAMP SHADE

Another charity shop find was a Laura Ashley lamp shade at a steal price tag, in just the perfect shade to match the curtains in the living room. The colour is actually more green than it appears in the photos.. it’s a sort of grey/dusty silver green (faded teal? a pale Jade? Persian Green? I’m sure there’s a more accurate name). Such a stroke of luck… What do you think of it?

Laura Ashley lampshade

Laura Ashley lampshade

Laura Ashley lampshade in the sofa corner

Laura Ashley lampshade in the sofa corner

Laura Ashley lampshade by night

Laura Ashley lampshade by night

BAKING

While ago there were over-ripe bananas laying around. Normally, I would eat them as my other half doesn’t like them ripe, but I’m on a low-sugar, GF diet. In order not to waste them, I thought to make some gluten-free loaves replacing sugar with some ripe fruit (there were bananas, self-picked blackberries, ginger and pears involved). The texture was not too bad for GF, but a hint more sugar would have been in order 😉 Hence the spoon of jam.

Enjoying a slice of GF, low-sugar loaf

Enjoying a slice of GF, low-sugar loaf

Gluten-free, low-sugar loaves

Gluten-free, low-sugar loaves

Well, that was it. Well done if you reached the end of this post! Thanks for joining.

How was your weekend?

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Advertisements

Handmade jewellery pouches! And yarn. And a Victorian ceiling rose.

I’ve been making wee bags to coordinate with the costume jewellery in my collection.

The collection started out because I saw things “I just liked” (uh oh, sounds familiar). I love it all, but I seldom use jewellery these days.. The vintage pieces are in time going to be posted on Etsy (whenever I get around to take beautiful photos and prepare the listings). I also plan to attend some small markets or events, like the ABBS that take place this Sunday in London (near Kentish Town, details here).

All of the bags are hand sewn. I used different materials:

  • Harris Tweed wool
  • velveteen (the purple and the orange)
  • corduroy (the black with red roses)

The Harris Tweed was a one-of lucky purchase – they were remnants, probably small offcuts from clothing and accessory production. The tweed came in various colours: beige, greys, dark green/dark red, brown/green/orange and so on. It’s very beautiful but until now I didn’t have an idea of what to make with it. I’m very happy that I finally thought of using the fabrics for these small pouches, because they’re beautiful materials and I love the results! I plan to make many more, as spare time allows..

Here’s an overview of those made so far (they still need ironing). What do you think?

My handmade jewellery bags

Corduroy in black and red, with a lovely rose motif

Purple velveteen

Orange velveteen

Harris Tweed wool in assorted colours

Harris Tweed bags and vintage jewellery

This one was made by an old friend of mine with a sewing machine. It’s much larger and can be used to wrap presents.

 

The bags laid out for photo shooting and planning the next ones to be made

~ ~ ~

I also want to show you my last stash enhancement! Tangled Yarn is having a sale and soon it’s my birthday, so I treated myself to some gorgeous yarn by Shilasdair (a Scottish company based on the Isle of Skye). I already had some DK in Winter Loch and Summer Loch shades, to which I now added more of the Winter Loch (a dusty shade of blue), as well as some 4 Ply in Rowan Berry. These are the beauties (sorry for the bad evening light):

Shilasdair stash enhancement

Shilasdair DK in Winter Loch

Shilasdair 4 Ply in Rowan Berry

~ ~ ~

Finally I also would like to share one of the DIY activities happening in the flat. The ceiling rose is being restored to its original Victorian beauty. It’s a WIP and may take quite a while to complete.

Firstly a vintage fancy (and heavy!) chandelier has been bought from Belgium. Now the stucco of the rose is being restored: in time it had been covered by layer upon layer of paint and its beautiful details were mostly lost.

There is an absolutely ecological and healthy way to remove the crap engulfing the stucco: PORRIDGE! Hard to believe but it works!

Here is evidence of the proceeding – unfortunately we forgot to take a picture of it before starting works, but you can still see how it was in the outer circle of the rose (which has yet to be handled).

The ceiling rose stucco (central section) covered in porridge and cling film (it does look weird)

The porridge has been removed and the layers have come off with it

Gentle mechanical work with a small plastic spatula is required to remove the extra material from the corner areas

After most of the extra material had been removed. Notice the difference between the inner and outer sections.

I plan to be back soon with a small update about the preparations for the ABBS and my Etsy shop.

Good night!

Camping weekend in Guildford, UK

I haven’t posted in ages.. life has got in the way (insert boring details)

IMG_6957_1024

This weekend I have been camping… yes! I hadn’t done in ages and really loved it. It certainly helped that the weather was graciously good and they offered very decent facilities!

It was for the EMF Camp that takes place every two years – a large gathering of investigative minds and non-grown-up folks. In the words of the organisers:

Electromagnetic Field is a non-profit UK camping festival for those with an inquisitive mind or an interest in making things: hackers, artists, geeks, crafters, scientists, and engineers.

There were various activities – from talks to workshops, soldering sessions, blacksmithing, make-you-very-own-ring, villages (people with a shared interest of any legit sort), retro arcade…. (incomplete list by any means). An amazing varied crowd attended – families, geeks, alternative people, all genders/ages/tastes, from as far as Germany and Netherlands, Ireland (as well as from Scotland, Wales and England).

I tried out soldering, put up/down my very own tent with no hiccups (first-timer), played retro video-games. Generally had a fab time and felt very much in sync with the spirit and the landscape (amazing location, did I mention already?).

IMG_6956_1024.jpg

My very own happy tent

My newbie soldering (left, and left)

The Retro Arcade – play anything vintage, for free

IMG_6989_1024.jpg

The creator of the smallest sat (which orbited for 22 months, but found no cosmic rays – hope I got this right). http://www.50dollarsat.info and amsat.org

I also tasted freshly made Dutch Stroopwafel (a heavenly delicious recipe involving loads of butter, I understand). Sadly the blacksmithing was booked out, doh.

IMG_6970_1024.jpg

Stroopwafel, freshly made on the spot (note my reusable light-weight container!)

…And got to wear flip-flops, walked bare-footed, sat on hay bales and got closer to Mother Nature. Big win.

The organisers made an excellent job and all ran smoothly. A big thank you!

IMG_6985_1024.jpg

And then there were the draught stoppers

Today I came across an old post about the Feline Draught Stopper, then WIP.. It took a while to complete, but last year it was finally done, and in use. Tadah!

ex Feline Draught Stopper

Here above it is, washed, stuffed and ready to be put in action again after the summer.

IMG_6395

I omitted the original feline head and tail, so it’s fair to say that cat is no more. I had to leave them out because they were going to be in the way when put in place on the window.

To make it I have (re)used materials that I had already in store. The outer shell was made with assorted wool rests, while the inner filling was done reusing bubble wrap from deliveries – just gathered together and rolled as a sausage.

IMG_6397

Above, on the right, you can see another draught stopper sewed by a friend of mine. It is made with fabric rests and vintage snap fasteners to close the side opening.

And here it is in use: preventing the cold draught coming in from the sash window, and also saving heating fuel. Good for the environment and for the purse!

IMG_6403

Finally, just a few ideas I saw in a shop window nearby. Maybe someone good at sewing could make these…

IMG_5858_1024 IMG_5859_1024

Making: a wave blanket

I have had quite some random yarn which wasn’t enough or particularly nice on its own, but still didn’t want to dispose of (no waste!)…

There are many ways to use smaller batches and in my opinion one of the most useful is that of using them in a blanket – in general I prefer to make things that have a practical use.

There are many nice patterns, both for crochet and knitting, and quite some are even free.

I had eyed this pattern a long while ago and finally I got around to actually make it… isn’t a nice feeling when you choose an item and start with it?

This time I have been good, and didn’t just start it (Startitis..?)!

The pattern is “Easy Ripple Afghan” by SusanB (free Ravelry pattern and blog post) and it comes in two sizes (throw and baby blanket) – in any case it is very easy to adjust to fit the size you want.

My (little) project notes are on Raverly and here are a few pictures…

IMG_6431IMG_6433IMG_6434

Have a lovely Sunday!

Jam making VS food waste

Long time no post… There is a lot to catch up with!

I’m now working so I try to keep the spare time during the weekend for offline activities.

I have been reading with interest about people trying to live in a more sustainable way and I try to contribute myself – through small steps and actions – to a better future for the planet.

Apart from buying less of unnecessary things, I buy more local or sustainable (although it’s hard to know/find the truth about origin, process of making etc. in these times of hype marketing and displaced purchasing).

Anyway, let me cut this story a bit shorter.

This summer and autumn I have been making jam from gathered berries and the odd fruits bought in season and even from salvaged fruits!

I made elderberry jam (sorry no pictures) from berries I salvaged when some elder plants had to be cut to refurbish my balcony in Austria.

Back in London, I was gathering blackberries at the local natural park. I also bought some in-season English raspberries, which, because they were a few days old stock, had been strongly reduced – so I saved money and avoided it going to waste; but next time I’ll try to find some local produce, instead of buying from a supermarket.

Finally, one day on my way back home, a local seller was disposing of some damaged fruit (that is, he left the baskets by the road-side for waste collection).. I felt a bit bad to take it, so I didn’t stop. After thinking a bit about it, the idea of the fruit going to waste was making me feel really bad!

Once a friend told me that I’m a “war child”, which luckily I’m not. Though I do listen with interest to stories from people who have gone through hardship. My late mum told me of when she was a child and their family was poor and while the adults were out working in the fields, the kids were at home and there wasn’t much food, so sometimes they went searching for bird eggs or wild salad… I don’t think such stories only belongs to the past or third-world countries: there are many children and families living below the poverty line even here in the UK (3.7 million children were living in poverty in the UK in 2013-14, that’s 28% of children).

Anyway, the bottom line is that I did go back and took some of the little that, by then, was left  on the street – a few small baskets of figs and some strawberries; they were a bit damaged but a good part could be salvaged for jam making after removing the wasted parts. I also added some more berries I harvested during another walk. So that became “figs & berries” jam.

I really enjoyed harvesting the fruit, making my own jam – which I’m now using instead of the store-purchased one – and knowing exactly what ingredients went in the product!

PS some links…

and some “easy” wisdom:

  • use less
  • buy local
  • also buy the product that is less pretty – taste is not less
  • serve just enough
  • use what is left
  • don’t throw away, just don’t