Archives for the month of: April, 2014

The Christmas Jumper has seen something of a resurgence in recent years. Previously, it’s reputation had been so poor that only weather forecasters and Noel Edmonds dare go near it, but it’s now travelled through the seas of hipster irony into (dare I say it, passé?) Primark territory.

This winter just gone, you couldn’t glance at Facebook or trip down the high street without seeing multiple reindeer and snowflakes in vibrant red and green gracing people’s chests. Thankfully, there has also been increased interest in more tasteful Fairisle/Scandi styles too. The Christmas jumper was to 2013 what the onesie was to 2012.

The office I work in has taken part in Save The Children’s Christmas Jumper Day the last couple of years, a lovely gentle fundraising idea that everyone gets involved in. Incidentally, this website has a couple of free knitting patterns for tiny jumpers.

Awful photo of a photo; I am in the middle wearing the orange Gap affair.

Awful photo of a photo; I am in the middle wearing the orange Gap affair.

To my slight embarrassment, I have worn (gasp) a shop bought jumper both years. And though I do believe the trend to be on the wane, stylish hand knitting never goes out of fashion, right? Therefore, I have started knitting my Perfect Christmas Jumper!. I love this look of this design. I’m more vintage-inspired than true-vintage though; I’ll probably do a less flamboyant sleeve top. At just 5′ 1.5″ tall, padded/dramatic shoulders seem to wear me rather than the other way round. The 40’s style waist does suit me however, I’m quite short-waisted and most tops are too long.

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I was inspired to start this project thanks to a KAL suggested by Andi over at the Untangling Knots group on Ravelry. She proposed a breakdown of garment parts throughout the year. I’m currently on catch up having bought my yarn late, but hope to post some progress pics soon. She’s even produced a badge for those of us playing along.

The yarn I'm using is Cygnet wool-rich 4 ply. It seems fairly authentic for the period, and to be honest I couldn’t afford the kettle dyed type indie yarn I usually buy my fingering weight in. I’ve gone for Geranium, a very Christmassy red, although a little blue toned for my usual taste! It’s pair with a cream to soften it a little.

I’m hoping knitting throughout the year will provide inspiration for me to avoid the crazy November rush in other areas. I’ve had ropey Christmases the last couple of years. Like most women I take on the primary role of festive organiser, despite working more hours than my partner. Gift purchases I tend to have a handle on; internet shopping truly is a beautiful thing, plus I work in a city centre so can pick things up as and when.

Where I have disappointed myself has been the entertaining/decoration side. For two years in a row, late December has seen me in tears because I am working right up until the day and I haven’t saved enough annual leave to get things going (this is despite the fact my workplace is VERY quiet that time of year. Remember the Robot?). My holiday allowance is woefully low, and I often need to take days for childcare etc, so its often unavoidable.

I am in a constant quandary with my work/life balance thing. As a natural extrovert I struggle with the reduced social time my working and family responsibilities now afford me. In truth, I rarely entertain at home. When I do try to arrange visitors it feels like I can’t get arrested at times; I guess because its so infrequent that I extend an invitation. Consequently I don’t make a lot of effort to make the home as nice as I can; we’re so rarely there.

But this year, I have decided you will definitely know it is Christmas Chez Minx. My early ideas are, like the jumper, vintage inspired. Now that car boot season is underway I have started to keep an eye open for vintage baubles. My main idea is an Edward Scissorhands tree. No, not black and spiky, I mean the 80’s-does’50’s version Kim decorates in the rather excellent movie

Edward Scissorhands

We already have a white tree, and the red bows look simple enough. I’m thinking a Pintrest wander might through up more ideas. Pretty soon it may even be time to crack open my Delia’s Christmas Collection book. As it happens, I’m not much of a cook, but man do I like reading cook books. I like Delia’s no nonsense style, and this tome is old enough to be edging towards retro (if not vintage) territory. I may not be at the menu planning stage, but its all about the ideas right now.

It might seem odd to be contemplating Christmas so soon after Easter, with the promise of summer round the corner, and I don’t want to wish them away. Maybe its a knitting thing to think of the long game? We are not into instant gratification after all. Plus, with a career background in retail, I’m used to thinking a season ahead. What do you reckon? Do you think about Christmas throughout the year? What are your plans?

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This is another project that’s been finished a while, but the writing up and photographing seem to take an age! In the end, I have opted for this very natural photo taken in the pub by my pal last night. We were there for the pub quiz, the England flag was flying to celebrate St George’s Day.

We lost the quiz. I think it was my fault. I don’t expect another invite.

I was distracted as I took some more knitting, the first cotton garment to grace the needles in a while; I have plans to make a few this year, in anticipation of a hot summer. A post for another day I think, back to the cardigan.

I chose this pattern, Marion by the ever so talented Andi Sutterland, for my Knitting Goddess Movie Stars KAL project for April, based on Anthony Hopkins.

The link? Well, he starred in a 2012 film called Hitchcock, playing the famous director. Hitchcock directed one of my favourite films of all time, Psycho, in which a character called Marion Crane is killed in the infamous shower scene.

The movie is one that has always been there, THAT shower scene iconic enough to be familiar even in childhood, when I had nightmares about Norman Bates hiding in my wardrobe. It was a student that I began to appreciate the true genius of the film. As part of my Theatre Studies degree at Liverpool Hope University, I took a film module and wrote an assignment on the evolution of the horror film; specifically slasher flicks. It was 1995 and Scream had just been released, which satirised the usual formula and piqued my interest. I wrote about that film, and traced the genre back through the heyday of Halloween to Psycho, considered by many to be the forerunner.

More recently, the TV series Bates Motel has reminded me how much I loved the original, as well as providing me with my new fashion icon. Unfortunately, the second season is proving a little lack-lustre, so I turn again to the original to be scared and entertained. Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates is just one of the best cinematic baddies ever.

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*shiver*

Onto the pattern itself. I love Andi’s designs, having previously knitted a Miette and a Stray. This was just as well done as the others; clear, simple and just my style! The rope-type cables put me more in mind of a medieval Maid Marion, perhaps the original inspiration for the design. I chose some Classy from stash, in a lovely russet brown which will match a lot of my cross-seasonal wardrobe. I fretted about finding five buttons to match from my eclectic tin, and opted for mis-matched vintage ones in the end. You can see from the photo that they ended very high on the button band, and I could’ve done with just three. I may remove the two erroneous buttons, but I will keep the remaining ones odd I think. It adds to the handmade look I like, plus I abhor all finishing and like to minimise it where possible!

Next month is Maggie Smith. I already have something up my sleeve (or on my head) for that……….

I can’t quite believe this has happened to me again. It has, in fact, happened so many times that I couldn’t begin to list them. I do know that  this is the third time I have been upset by it.

I felted a handknit.

Actually, that’s not true. A handknit was felted, but not by me. My lovely husband, seemingly breaking the lacklustre homemaking habit of a lifetime, decided to wash ALL OF THE CLOTHES this weekend. Of course in our house (for reasons to be explored further), dirty clothes are not limited to the laundry basket, but may be found loitering in unusual places: the car, the kitchen table, the magazine rack, and the stairs, where they sit for days waiting for someone to carry them upstairs to the empty laundry basket.

It was due to this lack of clear demarcation that I pulled this sorry looking affair from the washing machine. Yep, just washed. Not even tumble dried. It’s TINY! Of course, even if it were big enough to fit my 4 yr old daughter, it’s stiff as a board and unwearable. The kitty scores another blanket for her bed.

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This was the cardigan that I had whispered about on  this blog before, so nervous was I about its future. I knitted it in part to atone for another disaster, my Blackberry Cardigan of 2011.

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I love woolly, sheepy, PROPER wool. The above FOs were knitted in Rowan Purelife and Knitpicks Wool of the Andes. However, I (and my husband) clearly can’t be trusted.

As much as I love knitting, I’ve always hated laundry. Life is too short to iron, and our lifestyle means everything gets thrown into the machine, and the machine is always on. I try and keep handknits in the cupboard, they don’t need washing really, but it seems I dropped the ball here.

So what’s the problem? I’m a big subscriber to personality type analysis, particularly the Myers Briggs model (Take a free test here), and I think the way hubby and I see the world has a lot to answer for*. We are both heavily Intuitive over Sensing; meaning we’re better with ideas and concepts, than you know, umm, real stuff. I think this is why I like the process of planning projects, choosing yarn and then knitting, much more than keeping or wearing the items very often. We are also both much more Perception over Judging. I like to think of this as meaning we are more open minded, journey not destination, easygoing people. In reality, it means we like having fun and not clearing up.

While its nice to have a label to put on things, I have never been in any doubt as to the way I roll.

1) I have had (and lost) more purses, umbrellas and keys than you have had hot dinners.
2) An old nickname was ‘Wheresmy’ because I started every sentence with it.
3) Despite charming the pants off housemates, I ended up in spats with each and every one due to my slatternly ways.
4) I regularly shiver whilst I am out, having forgotten to bring a hat/scarf/gloves, despite having knitted hundreds of them.

Ridiculous, isn’t it?

Over time I have developed coping mechanisms, and can pull a pretty good impression of an organised and together woman; even though my natural preference is probably more like that woman Ross dates in Friends with the messy apartment, and I by no means use personality as an excuse. I have to make more effort, I do, but I get that being flakey is not ditzy and cute when you’re 37 and a working mother.

Perhaps what I should have done is married a very S/J kind of guy. To balance things out. Instead, I fell in love with quite possibly the only man in existence less practical than myself. Who is wonderful and I shan’t bad mouth him. Even though he is in the Bad Books today, as I have one less cardigan in my wardrobe.

From now on, I ONLY buy superwash wool. Seriously. If you catch me sniffing the sheep stuff, pull me away.

It’s the children I feel sorry for. During Sunday’s Easter hunt, my daughter was having problems finding all of her eggs.

‘Look in the place where you keep all of your clothes’ I suggested.
‘What? The floor?’  she replied.

Still, with parents like us, what chance does she stand?

* For anyone into this stuff, I’m ENFP and he’s INFP.

My little girl impresses me every day. She’s 4 years old and approaching the end of her reception year. As one of the younger children, we had our reservations about her going to school, but she loves it and is learning so much; every day seems to bring something new.

She’s developed a real love of drawing and colouring, and its turned into a nice activity for us to do together. I was reminded of my old hobby via a thread on my Pregnancy and Parenting Forum. Like all children her age she loves to run about and has boundless energy, but when it comes to ‘chillout’ time you can find us crowded over one of her (or my *cough*) colouring books.

Here’s our latest pic (can you guess who sits on which side?).

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My favourite colouring-in tools are felt tip pens, in particular these ones, but of late, my little artist and I have been using colouring pencils more. I like the subtley of shades, the finished effect is somehow more sophisticated.

I’m all for bright colour, but also enjoy variations on the theme. My latest project is a pair of Mixalot socks. This fab pattern allows the knitter to mix and match stripes and lace sections, and seems to be to be made for lots of confusing colours.

I am using a mini skein set from The Knitting Goddess in Blackened Rainbow. I find the darker shades much more interesting than an ‘inyerface’ rainbow spectrum, and I’m loving how it’s knitting up. I am slightly concerned about running out of yarn, as the set is only 70g. As a UK size 4/37, I should be OK, although I may have to make compromises about stripe selection. I think I may just go random on the second sock, rather than matching, as it allows me more leeway. Plus fraternal socks are kind of cool.

I knitted a pair of these before as a gift, and am pleased that I’ll get to keep these ones! I estimate I keep only 5-10% of the socks I knit, and my underwear drawers are woefully sparse.

I have modified the pattern slightly. I started knitting the medium, but it looked very baggy on the leg, so decreased to 60 stitches for a size small foot. The shape is now rather slouched, like the socks we all went crazy for back in the 90’s.

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I’m hoping my gauge hiccup doesn’t cost me too dearly in yarn (always swatch people!), thankfully the lovely Knitting Goddess sells individual skeins in odd colours should I need to make up the difference.

My daughter has been eyeballing them and has requested a pair. Maybe they will be next on the needles!