(NO) Jacket required

So Joanne how is #nobuyzone going? Well it’s funny you should ask because, friends,  just this week I have fallen from grace. I spent money on both clothes and yarn. Forgive me knitters for I have sinned

In my defence I tried very hard not to buy clothes and the yarn was a sort of consequence of feeling a bit sorry for myself.

It went off like this: I had an everyday-wear jacket. Weatherproof, stylish (after a fashion, and if you like orange) it had been a good and faithful servant, when *somehow it got covered in black ink across the middle of body at the front. This ink proved pretty sticky stuff and after a wash remained as indelible as before. But the wash had removed the weatherproofing very effectively. Goddammit. The ink was not ignorable (especially for someone who admits to being a neat-freak) so I tried to cover it up with a bit of embroidery. Which worked (I guess) but left me with a not water-proof, florally decorated (and I suspect slightly shrunk) jacket. I tried to like it, but I’m just not in to flower power (and against being wet – definitely not: not in Winter, not in Britain).

Admitting the inevitable, I then went out to buy a replacement winter casual jacket. I went to several outdoors shops and found nada, nowt, not a sausage – nothing. If they fitted around my apple-shaped middle the arms were too long. If the arms and shoulders fitted, I couldn’t fasten it. My dearest one suggested that I might be ok if I wore a jacket without a jumper. This was probably true but as well as being dry in Winter I also prefer (call me an irrational fool if you like) to remain warm too. I went home discouraged, new-jacketless and clutching a bottle of re-proofing potion.

The potion did not work and I remained discouraged. I accept that I have a large middle, but I’m not that freakish and to prove it I had a jacket that fitted. I look around me and see many other women with – ahem – a wee bit of extra insulation, all wearing jackets. They must’ve bought them SOMEWHERE…. This sort of shopping should make you hate manufacturers/designers and their very narrow ideas of what constitutes  the ideal female form, but it doesn’t, it makes you hate yourself.

I took the ‘kids’ (my two grown up sons) out shopping, and still glum, I cheered myself up with a yarn purchase. Four balls of WYS sock in an ashy rose colour to make this (or possibly this) reduced by a third. It felt good and it felt right – at the time, and then not so much later on when I squirrelled the yarn away.

And then strolling through town after a miserable conversation with my doctor (mile high cholesterol, and fatty liver were the highlights) I spied a jacket, waterproof, nearly identical to my old one and in a tasteful green.

Reader, I bought it.

*my son queried my story about how the ink had appeared. Honestly, as yarn is my witness ,it was not a ploy to buy a jacket. I loved that orange coat.

another WIP

Just popped by to say that yes I have started another Carbeth sweater and if you fancy following my progress on Instagram I’m joatvillagewoolly.

Having a lack a true sweater quantities of – well, anything – in my stash I had a brainwave… colour work. Do the ribs in one shade, a transitional band of fair isle, and then another colour (and repeat on the sleeves). The neck may be grey or it may be purple – it depends on how acute the ‘yarn chicken’ gets!

Here’s some pictures – the yarn is the same as the last one – Rico’s Alpaca dream – and  it’s still wonderful to knit with. I’ve got tension/gauge with 7mm/6mm needles. fullsizeoutput_1587fullsizeoutput_1586

let it snow, let it snow…let it snow

 

It’s a snow day outside – so a good day (in my view) for sitting, knitting and thinking. A couple of things came up on my Instagram feed and blogs about finding your style.

I don’t know a single woman who can take a compliment – if you say to someone who is immaculately made up, beautifully dressed and perfectly coiffured, they’ll pay their stomach and assure you that they’re bloated/pounds heavier than they should be or something equally mad. Or they assure you that the outfit was cheap or the equivalent of ‘this old thing’. We women are pretty good at being nice to everyone – except ourselves.

How about this – everyone in the family is ready for a night out, you’re still standing in your pants and bra in a room that looks like its been burgled trying to find something to wear. You have loads of clothes and not a single thing you feel happy to go out in.

I remember seeing some slogan somewhere which was a mixture of angry and sad: “a woman’s place is in the wrong” and certainly our attitudes to our bodies suggest that is very much the case despite efforts to promote body positivity. But I guess that the fashion and beauty industries (worth billions and billions) are geared at that feeling that if you had the right dress/skin/hips you could finally feel happy.

Maybe dressmaking and knitting could throw a wee spanner in the works: think about it, your new clothes come without a size label and are made to fit you, they’re unique so no-one can do that “who wears it better” calculation, and to be honest they are kind of ‘outside’ fashion too. Some sewing and knitting patterns reflect current trends (primarily from the mainstream brands), but many indy designs are simply classic shapes, or simply wearable styles. And in knitting a touch of traditional is valued over the swift fashion.

The more I wear my own me-made clothes, the more comfortable I feel about my own style: I am classic apple and short and there are no designers making clothes for my shape anywhere in the world. Except me. And the more I diverge from fashion, the more I suspect that it’s a bit of a con anyway. Yarn Harlot was talking a little bit about this and said this

“It’s taken me getting this old to suspect that when I leave a room, people do not discuss my neckline choices in a way that’s going to have any actual impact on my life.”

…and for ‘neckline’ I suspect you could most probably substitute any other part of your body that you’re currently pre-occupied with. You care – but other people really really don’t because they see the whole package, and if you’re happy, smiling, kind and friendly, warm and stylish, frankly who gives a flying feck about a muffin top or flat chest?

Meanwhile: Finished objects/works in progress – this has not changed overmuch. Cline is still in her bag waiting for a decision on her fate…the socks are still unfinished and the blanket is still ongoing. Because I simply can’t sit and not knit I dug out some rather nice Adriafil aran from my stash and started this. There may have to be some yarn chicken as I have 4 balls and I really need five. But if it has to be frogged at least I has something to knit…. which is the main thing…..isn’t it?

IMG_4102Note that my new favourite sweater Carbeth is now a ‘thing’ – head over to Mason Dixon knitting to hear about it. Mine is a joy to wear: I made it considerably longer in the body/shorter in the sleeves than the original but raced to the finish line in just over a week. I love it. There may be more (yeah, ‘may’….. I’m already thinking about ditching the green in favour of another one…)

Friday on my mind….

Good morning chums!

Posting a little later in the week than usual as, frankly, I didn’t have much to talk about….weather remained meh, knitting was ongoing and, due to the former, not much went on other than hot chocolate and the latter.

On Tuesday I had my haircut: some people call this sort of self-care ‘pampering’ but not me. (As a side note, I don’t regard somebody in an apron dragging out my body hair, subjecting me to a pummelling, restricting my diet to ‘juice’ or slopping chemicals with a dubious provenance on my skin ‘pampering’ either. Time to knit, no washing up and steady supplies of choccy? Now you’re talking.).

I had come to the easy conclusion that a short hair cut which required 5-weekly trips to a hairdresser was not compatible with my low spend lifestyle, and plus (this is what made it easy) I don’t like getting my hair cut. I would rather have my teeth drilled – a bad haircut follows you around (inevitably) for weeks and weeks, bad teeth? Keep your mouth closed and no-one but you knows.  I’m joshing of course, but I’ve never cried over a visit to the dentist, but I’ve often shed a tear for a bad ‘do’.

This one was ok – I paid enough money for my views to count, and had an inch or two trimmed off and my fringe managed.  My hair hero at the moment is Emmy-lou Harris. It’s unlikely that she and I will be confused anytime soon, but at least it gives me something to aim for – and allows me a damn good excuse for hairdresser avoidance!

My hair is now shoulder-ish length – and the bonus of this is that it makes hats look a bit better on me*. To celebrate I used up a treasured skein of DK from Countess Ablaze  (ball band lost somewhere…), the pattern is my own and might (I emphasis the ‘might’) turn into a pattern at some point. I love garter on the bias and it makes a grand alternative to rib – hugging your head in a loving fashion. The construction is fairly simple (as long as you don’t mind picking up stitches) and it’s a good way to use up a much loved ball of gorgeousness.

I finished Carbeth and I love it. Or so I thought until I asked my husband to take a few photos. My photos of myself are carefully managed and posed for the best possible angles. Hubby just pointed the camera and shot. I looked like a dumpy old raspberry and it’s taken me a day or so to get over the experience. Sigh. Anyway I added about 5 inches to the length of the body, took away about 3 or 4 inches from the sleeve and made the 4th size. I blocked it to ensure that the neck was ‘funnel’ as opposed to ‘choky’ and squared the shape of the body. I think it looks good but sadly you’re going to have to take my word for it. This is the best photo I could tolerate!

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Cline remains on hold – and could well be frogged as I rather like this pattern that I spied on Ravelry..

*I’ve never really got on with hats – usually ending up looking goofy rather than stylish….

Deer and cake

We seem to be romping through January, thank gods, as today’s weather – a horrid combination of snow/sleet/hail – snail? – forcefully suggested that Spring can’t come soon enough).

We took Vanda out at the weekend so she wouldn’t feel unloved, and despite the chill and dreary weather we struggled to find a place that wasn’t fully booked. I thought that winter motor homing  might be a minority sport but hell, no! In the end we got a night at Chatsworth House. Jane Austen fans will recognise it as the home of Darcy (although a couple of places stood in for Pemberley in the BBC adaptation). We had a special key to access the deer park so its a great place for a winter wander. We saw the deer in question – as they weren’t clad in multiple layers of fleece and wool they looked a bit fed up. Local bars in Baslow provided a warm place to walk to.

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I took some Bread and Butter Pudding cakes along for snacking purposes: yummy and easy to make. Just chop some sliced brioche loaf into cubes (there was about 2/3 left of the loaf), fling it into a large mixing bowl with a good handful of mixed fruit and peel, 2 eggs, about 3 or 4 tablespoons of double cream, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and a couple of tablespoons of light brown sugar (or to taste). Mix well until all the bread is well-aquainted with the egg mix. Divide between muffin cases and bake for 15 minutes in 180 degrees C until firm. Eat mid-afternoon with coffee.

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the colour of the yarn isn’t magenta, its more like claret…camera sigh…

Knitting: making swift progress on Carbeth and ignoring Cline’s plaintive cries from its knitting bag. I am attempting to make it longer and use up some stash yarn so the length of the sleeves and body are still under discussion. I don’t want it too long but need room for a middle-aged ‘apple’ tum. The yarn is Rico Alpaca Dream and it’s lovely. It proved a wee bit too pricey for my customers so I have quite a bit stashed. Oh happy day.

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camera fail 2: this is a lovely sunny yellow…

Also re-blocking this cardigan which I’m hoping will rescue it from a trip to Oxfam. It’s Whippet by Ankestrick, which is a lovely pattern to knit, and the yarn is an alpaca from Drops which is equally pleasing, but the finished garment was ‘meh’ with a side of  ‘hmm’. I’m hoping that giving it a more boxy shape will make it more in line with my wardrobe choices. Well, you never know……

January

Hello all and I hope you are surviving the return to normality (and if you’re in the States, the brutual weather on the East coast. Blimey, when you folks do weather, you really pull out all the stops!). Everyone in my wee household is back to work, so I’m enjoying quite a bit of peaceful solitude – and naturally I’m using it to craft.

The morning usually finds me stitching: did I mention that I’d taken up embroidery? Well, it might be a touch more truthful to say that I have become like a woman possessed with embroidery (although clearly ‘possessed’ and ‘embroidery’ don’t belong in the same sentence, a bit like ‘shawl’ and ‘rampant’…although maybe there’s some Austen fan-fiction that addresses all these things in the same paragraph…anyway, I digress). Since my first little venture I have assembled all the bits and bobs I need in a work bag, obtained the cutest little Merchant and Mills scissors from this lovely shop in Ilkley and I’ve been enthralled. Pictures below. ‘That’s all?’ I hear you knitters and crocheters cry – when you can knit half a sweater in a week and a crochet a cot blanket in a heartbeat, this tiny offering looks soooo….constipated.

 

 

And that is its charm I guess, for me at least. When I paint and draw I make pictures that are full of tiny detail and pattern and now I’ve found something that resembles that but conveyed through thread and cloth. It’s delicious.

(BTW – I had the cloth in my stash and a bunch of the floss too but it’s pretty inexpensive, I owned the frames because I’d made crochet mandalas for the shop window. Aside from the tiny scissors and a few extra bits of floss this is also a seriously cheap hobby. So if times are hard, but the urge to craft is powerful, type ‘embroidery’ into Instagram and be inspired.)

Meanwhile at the yarn-face I seem to have ended up with a few WIP’s again – how does this keep on happening?

I am making this in some rather lovely wine coloured WYS blue-faced Leicester DK. It’s slow going and some of the pictures of finished versions are making me a tad worried that I have chosen the wrong project for this yarn again. This yarn has already been at least two projects: one didn’t get beyond the rib, the other was an ill-advised colour-work project that got as far as mid yoke before I kicked it into touch. Fingers crossed for Cline.

I’ve just cast on this sweater by Kate Davies in a rich ruby alpaca/wool mix. I don’t usually dig her colourwork/negative-ease style but Carbeth spoke to me – it said, I’m ‘A-line and chunky don’t you want to pick up those needles and give Cline a rest in the bag?’ I was hopeless to resist. (I’m making it longer btw, there’s always something with Ms.Davies things that I just can’t get on with, and a cropped chunky sweater doesn’t work for me)

Also on the needles are socks (2nd sock syndrome is strong with this one), a pair of yellow mittens that I carry around in my hand bag just in case there is hospital visiting (long story… but everyone is ok now), around 80 squares for this blanket (with about 20 to go) and 2 or 3 sewing projects.

How on earth did I ever have time to run a shop?

I’m giving up….New Years resolutions

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From my graphic alphabet..work in progress

So Christmas has come and gone  (it was lovely, thanks for asking!), and it’s the start of another New Year, so my Facebook feed is stuffed with folk starting some sort of ‘denial challenge’ in January. Some are doing veganuary (vegan for a month), some are running every day, a few are swearing off alcohol. Some are doing all three (madness! Imagine getting home from your run without a beer to welcome you back, or the promise of a slap up cheese on toast feast if you put in the miles). Congratulations if you have that sort of resolve. I don’t.

And to be honest I can’t get behind starting any privation in January: it’s the middle of winter, cold, dark and frequently wet, Christmas cheer is behind and the next holiday (Easter?) is still months away. I do understand the impulse to change, god knows. With a swelling belly and a sore head, stiff from hours relaxed under a box of Quality Street on the sofa, us northern European puritan types are seeking some sort of mortification of our too too indulgent flesh. Bring on the torture to chase out the guilt.

But we all know that New Years resolutions break as easily as the brittle ice on January puddles, and bingo, we can add the pain of failure to our many sins.

As the two month veteran of a self imposed pledge (in my case not buying clothes, shoes, bags, or – sob -yarn for a whole year), I feel a bit smug about this rush to self-flagellation. Ha, two months in and I’m still happily not buying stuff. Or at least not buying the sort of stuff that I used to. Over the Christmas period I bought presents of course, and it seemed that most nights featured a run down to Tesco to buy yet more  festive ‘must haves’, but I also made a gift for everyone I care about, re-fashioned a couple of Cinderella outfits from my wardrobe, did a bit more mending and sorted out a few more wardrobe ‘archives’. I visited shopping centres, hit the streets of Manchester, and visited some ‘catnip’ stores (Whitestuff …. I still love you) and didn’t buy clothes, bags, shoes or yarn, and more importantly didn’t really want to. Only ten months to go….

I think that I am still happy to proceed with #Nobuyzone until the bitter end, because I’d had years of preparation, instead of 2 short weeks. As trips to charity stores multiplied and the piles of grey t-shirts regenerated themselves, as I read about the inequities of the fashion trade and my boxes of unworn, but too good to throw away ‘things’ grew like topsy in the loft, it became imperative that I stopped.    Just stopped.

I’m enjoying getting re-aquainted with my archived clothing (a wool jacket from Gap, warm and cosy, that I just quit wearing, sometime in 2014 from a receipt in the pocket, boots that I got bored with, sweaters that I ‘lost’ in the loft), I’m getting through my yarn stash and making use of random bits and bobs that I accumulated: patchwork is on the agenda to use up fabric scraps, some embroidery silk has awakened an odd passion for embroidery (last seen in these parts when I was a nipper making gym bags in primary school).

I am very lucky to have a lot of lovely things to ‘play’ with and the gift of time (thanks arthritis, and bugger you) to appreciate . I accept that I am very fortunate to have accumulated too many things, many – many – people don’t have that luxury.

I hope to make my year long pledge an enjoyable journey of self-discovery and change; not a bitter trudge to the end of a ‘denial challenge’!

Happy New Year!