Oh my goodness, I’m absolutely delighted to be this week’s Featured Seamstress on Coletterie! I can’t quite believe it to be honest, especially after seeing the calibre of the other featured seamstresses. My cheeks hurt from smiling!

If you fancy popping over to read my interview, you can find it here. It’s my Aubergine Ginger that earned me this esteemed spot…thank you Ginger!

Firstly, I want  to apologise if this blog is getting too knitting-heavy for some...I realise the irony considering what name I chose! In all honesty though, the lead up to Christmas is always so busy for me and it leaves very little time for sewing - so if I wasn't doing this eight-week knitting course, I think my blogging would be pretty sparse! In any case, as a reassurance to those who were wondering, I have many personal sewing plans for the near future...including some Christmas-gift-sewing along the way!

Anyway, onto business - it appears that in my excitement to share
my snood last week, I forgot to post about my actual knitting lessons! Ooops, what a show off!

I think we’ve learned everything that our little beginner brains can handle for now, so for the last two lessons (7 & 8) we will get to work on a project of our choice. I’ve seen a really smart circular scarf thing that I’m itching to start next week, but right now, I’m working on my third snood (the second was identical to the one you’ve already seen). I’m using the same pattern, but this time I’m going for a more dramatic effect with moss stitch. I blame you entirely for this obsession by the way Karen!

I’m pretty pleased with how it’s looking so far! And look at all the delicious yarns that arrived in the post the other day – ordered for a bargain from here

Also, I’ve done a round-up of the skills I’ve learned over the last six weeks, as they might be helpful for any other beginner knitters out there. I’ve linked to tutorials from Knitting Help where possible, because I found this website really helpful! I’m still perplexed as to why there is a continental and an English way of knitting, but just so you know, I’ve linked to the English tutorials because this is the way I’ve been taught.

Basic Skills

Cable Cast On - a good basic way to get any beginner project started.

Basic cast off - again an easy way for beginners to finish off projects.

More advanced patterns which need shaping will require you to decrease:

Decreasing looks quite neat!

Similar patterns may also require you to increase:

  • I’ve been taught to Bar Increase which works for both the start and end of your rows.
A bit of moss stitch, followed by stockinette increase, followed by stockinette decrease

Types of Stitches

Knit Stitch - there’s a long tutorial and a short tutorial for this.

Purl Stitch – again, there’s a long tutorial and a short tutorial.

Garter Stitch – this stitch is achieved by knitting every row or purling every row and looks like this:

Stocking / Stockinette Stitch – this is achieved by alternating between knitting and purling rows (knit one row, purl the next) and looks like this:

Ribbed Stitch - this is achieved by alternating between knitting two stitches (or however many a pattern asks you to) and purling the same or a different amount (again, the pattern will specify this). A key thing to remember is that when you're knitting stitches you need to bring your yarn to the back of your needle and when you're purling you need to bring the yarn to the front of the needle.

Moss / Seed Stitch - for this stitch you literally just alternate between knit and purl stitches. When you start a new row, you've got to make sure that your stitches are the opposite to the ones directly below. For example if the first stitch of the last row is a purl, you've got to start your new row with a knit stitch. Again, you need to remember to bring your yarn to the back of your needle on a knit stitch and to the front of the needle on a purl stitch.

In case you hadn't realised, I couldn't be enjoying learning knitting more! Like sewing, it's such a brilliantly creative skill to develop, but I also like the un-sewing-like freedom it provides...you can pretty much take it anywhere with you if you just ignore the weird looks! 

Anyway, I hope this helps some people or is at least of a little interest to others!
Having had very little time for sewing recently, I'm happy to have finally finished and photographed something, especially since it involved two sewing firsts in one – a refashion and a Sewaholic Pendrell Blouse!

Cinched in with a belt, I think it would look great tucked into something, but I have nothing that fits the bill at the moment...

I started hatching this plan back in September, when Lauren of Tea and Crumpets blogged about a great vintage-style dress from Primark. This dress looked so divine on Lauren, that I immediately rushed out to buy it and was super happy when I picked it up for a mere £2!!! I couldn't believe my luck, but to my devastation it turned out that I really don't have the stature to carry this wonderful dress off.

Not only does it swamp my frame, but it simultaneously dislikes my ample bosom!

Despite all this, I was determined not to waste such glorious fabric, so I decided to refashion it into my first ever Pendrell. I just love the poppy print and I wish you could touch the fabric for yourself, it's so silky and luxurious.

I started by cutting the dress up at the sleeves, bodice and skirt

I then cut out the main blouse pieces from the dress' skirt and the blouse sleeves from the plentiful dress sleeves

I didn’t have enough fabric to make the Pendrell sleeves double like the pattern recommended, so I had to hem them instead, but they still look great I think. My fabric constraints also meant that I couldn’t make matching bias binding, so I had to trim the neckline and armholes with plain black satin bias binding.

Some close ups of the sleeve detail

As expected, this Sewaholic pattern is really simple to follow and cleverly constructed. The princess seams were a little tricky to sew with slippery fabric and I found that the easiest way to finish them was to overlock them due to all the layers. I also shortened the pattern by 4.5 inches in total - I started by shortening the bodice by my usual 2 inches, but then took off another 2.5 inches from the bottom too! I know I'm short, but the pattern seemed super long to me...like more of a tunic than a blouse!

Rare winter sunshine...right in my eyes!

I don’t think it’s the most flattering blouse I own (maybe I could have taken in the princess seams a little more), but overall I’m really happy with the result and who doesn’t need a smart, yet roomy blouse in their wardrobe!?! Plus, I’m so pleased that the divine dress fabric didn’t go to waste!
Finally! After complaining in yesterday's post, the sun finally came out this morning allowing me to snap some pics of my very first ever knitting project – my snuggly new snood! As you all know, it started with Karen, spread around the blogsphere  and wrapped me up in its whirlwind!

It's made following free Guardian pattern and using 12mm needles (which I call comedy needles as I looked like a fool trying to use them at the beginning) and Sirdar Indie  in shade 156. It's such a soft and cosy yarn! Just a heads up as the pattern calls for 200g of wool, but I only needed to use 100g...so go figure...

Close up of my crazy hippie yarn - not at all my usual style, but I like it nonetheless!

My neat-ish seam done with a mattress stitch

As a beginner, I also found KnittingHelp.com invaluable – thank you Mela for sharing this link, as I'd never heard of it before!

Overall, I'm delighted with my first knitted item! It's not perfect by any means, but I'm planning more in solid colours and you know what they say about practise eh!?!

Fellow UK residents, and residents of other wintry parts of the world, are you feeling frustrated by the gloomy weather and lack of light? 

I'm absolutely itching to share my two latest finished projects with you – a delightful Pendrell Blouse  and a snug snood inspired by Karen – but there never seems to be good enough light for photographs! It's gloomy when I leave for work in the mornings and pitch black by the time I leave work. I'm so desperate that I've even considered nipping home at lunch time to snap a few, but it's been grey and raining all this week. Pathetic eh!?! 

So until I find some light to photograph my finished goodies for you, I'll leave you with some retail therapy I recently underwent to help lift my mood. None of them have arrived wait, but I can't wait to get my grubby little hands on them!

Oh, how I love the view on the left...the fabric is just divine!

I love the simple lines of this 30s pattern

This coat is so elegant...though I don't think I'll get round to making it this winter!

The yellow and navy views are my favourite, I can see them really dressing up a casual outfit!

I love the pleats and neckline of this pattern...oh and the bow detail of course!

How sexy is this low back!?! I also want the black patterned fabric it features!

I like how this looks like a two-piece, but is in fact a dress

I can see the orange version becoming a summer staple...aaah, come back summer!

How lovely are these 1950s rose prints?!?

I love swiss dot and this grey one is so delicate-looking

I have a 1960s-esque summer dress in mind for this beauty

So, is the gloomy weather affecting your blogging in any way? What are you doing to lift your spirits...not hoarding patterns and fabric like me I hope...
I can't quite believe I'm already halfway through my knitting course! Even though pretty much everything we're learning can be found in books and online, I take things in much better if I can see it them up close and personal, so for me, learning this way is great!

For homework this week I practised my rib and stockinette stitching some more. 

Then in class we learned how to decrease our knitting, which is what you need to do to get a sleeve to fit an armhole etc. You do this by knitting a couple of stitches together near the beginning and end of each row, until you've decreased your rows by the required amount. 

Finally, we managed to get started on moss stitch, which is my favourite-looking stitch so far. It's so cute and bobbly...almost like little polka dots! For this stitch you literally just alternate between knit and purl stitches. When you start a new row, you've got to make sure that your stitches are the opposite to the ones directly below – for example if the first stitch of the last row is a purl, you've got to start your new row with a knit stitch. It takes a fair bit of concentration, so I definitely need more practise! You can see that I fudged it a bit, so I've done a few rows of stockinette to clear the slate and get me back on track!

On a slightly different, but very related matter, I've made a decision! So inspired have I become by Karen's talent, Mela's tenacity and Jane's resourcefulness that I've decided to be fearless and give this free snood pattern a go. After Karen showed hers off she sparked a virtual snood frenzy, which is brilliantly documented here.

Don't laugh, I'm serious...I reckon I can do it with a bit of help from online video tutorials and the like. Look, I've even gone and bought everything I need...I'm so excited to give this a go!

Since writing this post, I've totally realised that I've only gone and got the wrong wool! It's nowhere near chunky enough! Ooops! Nevermind, I'll just have to go and get something more suitable tomorrow. You live and learn I guess!!