Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Lady Jane Has Arrived

My tailors dummy has arrived after what seemed like a long wait. I have decided to call her Lady Jane. I ordered her on the 7th February with an 8-10 day delivery date. When she didn't arrive I rang the company to be told that meant 8-10 working days so that didn't include any weekend days! That meant that I had to wait almost 3 weeks for her arrival. I am not the most patient of people when I have ordered something. I want it within a couple of days and have been spoilt in that things usually arrive within a week of ordering. The only things that I had to wait for are goods from China but as they are usually a fraction of the prices in the UK they are worth the wait.

I know that you have seen this waistcoat before but this photo shows off Lady Jane, except for her legs. She has a three legged stand in wood as a base. I am pleased with her as, although she was relatively inexpensive compared to the adjustable ones, she is just what I need as a photographic prop.

Of course the Manchester weather is not co-operating. I did manage to take a few photos for Etsy yesterday but today is dark and gloomy, Photos of crochet look so much better taken in natural light so today I will just have to concentrate on adding the photos from yesterday to my Etsy store. I will let you know when they are in the shop so you can take a look.

This is one of my Spanish influenced shawls.

As is this one. This is a remake of one that I sold at a craft fair. The colours are very slightly different as I couldn't buy the exact shades as two of them had been discontinued.

Guess who has been ordering from Kemps again? I swear that I must be one of their best customers. It is balls of acrylic that I need for my next few projects. Much as I would like to crochet in better quality yarns I need the budget prices to make them a reasonable price to sell. If I ever get a customer base who would appreciate paying for lovely yarns then I will switch to pretty yarns. At the moment I can't afford to buy expensive yarns and hope that I will sell the finished garments. I do have some lovely yarns in stock to make lacy scarves that I will try to use as they are just one skein that I bought for socks and then decided that the yarn was far too nice to wear on my feet. I am rough on socks and it breaks my heart when I wear holes in wool that I have paid £10-15 a skein. I will stick to Opal for socks as it washes and wears so well.

Nestled in the middle of this yarn is one ball of Red Heart in red that I managed to bid for on Ebay. I found a stockist on who ships to the UK but the postage is only given for one ball. I have written to them to ask about multiple postage and once again I have not had a reply. That is three firms that I have contacted who haven't bothered to answer me. If the answer is that they don't give a discount for multiple shipping then at least it would be polite to have an answer. I will have to wait until my US born friend goes to see her family in the US and can buy some and tell me the price plus postage and I can pay her via Paypal.

These are the latest of my Ebay purchases. My friend Sue buys directly from Ice yarns. As she has bought from them many times she now gets e mails telling her of their bargains. The postage is expensive as I believe that the yarn comes from Turkey but if you can get the yarns at bargain sale prices then it all works out quite reasonable. I haven't ordered directly from them as their site contains far too many tempting yarns and I really have enough. However I do love the Ice yarns and was tempted by this gorgeous mossy green. I think this is a 'me' buy and not for crocheting for sale. The pink chunky yarn is already on the hook. I am making a jacket for my Etsy shop..

I was hoping to take more photos of Lady Jane wearing my crochet but today is dull and dark. The rain is that fine misty kind of rain. I did manage to take some photos in  natural light yesterday afternoon so am hoping that it will brighten up if it ever stops raining. I can't understand why the TV news say that we are running short of water when so much of it falls from the sky. I think that they need a better method of collection than the one that we have at present.

I have a couple of You Tube crochet videos to watch before I get down to my crochet again. I am so addicted to watching these videos. I love to see other peoples finished work.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Today's Theme Is Crochet Shrugs

I have been busy making shrugs suitable for weddings (not mine I hasten to add) My friend Claire has been designing some wedding dresses for a fair in March and wanted to display some kind of cover ups for either the wedding day or the evening. These are two samples that I have made in acrylic from machine cones. Once we settle on the right design then they will be crocheted again but in something special like merino, silk or alpaca.

Both of the patterns that I am showing today came from Etsy purchases from Berniolies Designs. This first one is simply called short sleeved shrug.

This design came out a bit larger than I wanted it to be but I can always use a smaller hook or cut out a pattern on the back as it is worked firstly side to side as a rectangle. I do wish that my tailors dummy would arrive as it will make taking photos much easier. This bolero has turned out probably to fit a 36-38" bust but not all brides are super skinny are they?

This bolero is called Rainbow Shrug as it is featured on the pattern in rainbow colours. Please excuse the model flashing her fake plastic boobs but as this shrug is a smaller size than the first one I couldn't stretch it to cover her modesty.

 I think that out of the two boleros this one is my favourite. It would look nice in other colours as a cover up for summer dresses and not just as bridal wear.

I have still not started on my knitting machine although these shrugs have whetted my appetite for combining machine knitting with crochet to make individually designed shrugs and boleros for wedding and summer wear. I have oodles of machine cones so watch this space.

I rang the supplier of the tailors dummy and he has assured me that it is  going out on the van today so I should receive it today or tomorrow. I hate waiting in for things when I don't know when they are going to arrive. I have to get out today to shop as I am running out of basic food items and also it's my Brother's birthday tomorrow and I must buy and post his card.

I seem to have found my crochet mojo. I just wish that my knitting mojo would reappear as I have so many things to knit for my niece's baby. The colours of cotton and bamboo that I bought are staring at me accusingly from their box. I also have a jacket for myself that needs two sleeves knitting and I promised my elder niece to make her one very similar. She chose the wool from my stash so that is also in my box in the corner giving me the evil eye. I think that I need to have more that one pair of hands or cut out sleep altogether. I seem to be busier now in my retirement than I ever was when I was working. Back then though I didn't do any knitting or crochet. I had a gap of over 10 yrs when I didn't touch a hook or needles. I only returned to my craft about 5 yrs ago in retirement and whilst I was recuperating from my operations. Now I feel incomplete if I haven't done any crochet at some  point during the day.

I hope that you are all enjoying your day. Once again it is dull and miserable here in Manchester but at least it's not raining -----yet!

Friday, 17 February 2012

Were Vintage Crocheters Quicker?

The reason that I am asking this question is that I bought this pattern earlier this week

I don't know if you can read the wording but it says make this sweater in an evening. I always thought that I was quite a quick crocheter but it took 2 evenings to finish it. I am trying to make my mind up if the ladies of the 50's were quicker as most of them didn't have the distraction of the TV. I don't think that there was such a thing as the trade descriptions act back then to stop people saying anything that they wanted to describe things.

I have a crochet sweater hardback book from the 60's that is called Crochet Sweaters in a weekend. Considering that some of them are multi coloured fair isle type designs I defy anyone to make a long jacket up in pattern in a weekend.

This crocheted up really quickly. I can crochet old type patterns far quicker than the modern patterns. There is something simplistic about the way that they are written that I understand. Modern patterns have far too much information for me and I find them harder to follow. I usually give up and do things my way in the end.

This sweater took less than 200 grams. I made it in acrylic as it is for sale and more expensive yarns, although lovely, would put it out of my customers price ranges. I would love to crochet in the finest yarns but I do want to make some kind of a profit at the end  of it. I can't afford to have expensive things that don't sell. Non crafters have no idea how much hand made things cost to make.

The bottom band is crochet afterwards and is tight fitting. The pattern gets around this by making splits fastened with buttons to be easier to get the sweater on. I would miss this bit out if I was making this sweater for myself as I don't have a waistline to show off so a looser edging is more my style.

I still haven't got around to the machine knitting. I seem to be having a bit of a mental block with the knitting. I have started another crochet shrug instead. It is slow going as I am using quite fine yarn and a small hook.

I am still waiting for the tailors dummy. When I phoned the store they said that I would not receive it until next week as the sale advert states 8-10 working days for delivery. I understand why they are maybe closed one day for the weekend but they seem to be counting both days of the weekend. The silly thing is that the store is about a mile down the road from me!. If it comes on Monday then I will have been waiting 13 days. I have never waited this long for anything to be delivered from Ebay except for when I ordered buttons from China. I will have to spend a whole day taking photos for Etsy once it does arrive as I have quite a few items to list.

I have joined another online community of Manchester crafters. I figure that the more that I chat to people having similar problems to me as regards marketing myself and selling things the better. I now belong to two of these communities so hopefully some good advice will come through these forums. I would welcome advice from people who are making sales and have good web sites.

I don't have anything planned for the weekend except for a little bit of shopping. I hope to settle down to my crochet and a bit of housework. Have a nice weekend folks.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Cast Off Crew and Fresh Off The Hook videos

Although I am not blogging often I am still crocheting away. I haven't yet taken photos of half of the things that I have finished since I was last blogging frequently. I have discovered The Cast Off Crew videos and this has spurred me on to try to show more of what I have finished. I do love watching the hats, and other things, that the ladies produce. The main person who started the Cast Off Crew is Sweet Pagan Rose aka Crochet Zombie. This is one video where she also mentions a lot of the other members

I also like watching One Virtuous Woman from the Fresh off the Hook series of videos. She is usually with her daughter and they always make me smile

Whilst I love these videos I am envious of the Red Heart Yarns that they use. It's one of those yarns that US crocheters use as a cheaper acrylic yarn. Here in the UK there isn't an alternative. Our acrylics are very limp in comparison to this. I did enquire to a couple of online places as to how much the shipping would be for a few balls but didn't get an e mail in reply from either of them despite repeating the e mails. I can't understand why the yarn has never made it across the pond. It's probably because we have a lot of yarnies over here who only crochet in wool or other expensive yarns. I will have to ask one of my US friends to price up shipping for a box full of it and send them a Paypal payment. No matter how much the shipping costs it has got to be cheaper than what the US retailers on Ebay are asking for one ball to be shipped (multiplied by a few balls). I did look on Hershners and although they mention shipping to the UK I just got confused looking at the shipping amounts for different countries and the taxes that they mention..

This is my photo display of what I have made since the last time that I blogged.

This is the front view of a pattern from the 60's that you will have seen before on my blog in different colours

The colours look darker on the photo than they do in real life. It is one of those 'wear your sunglasses and don't be afraid of colour' garments, As you know, from past posts, this is the pattern that I get asked most about. I have found a link to a waistcoat that is very similar to this one except for the fastenings so I will put the link here.

This next shrug is a pattern that I bought from Etsy. It's called V Lace Shrug from the Crochet Spot The designer is Rachel Choi.

Although the pattern was very easy I think that I messed up the sleeves. The pattern is basically a rectangle folded in half with a bit stitched up at either side for the cap sleeve, I have never made a shrug in this method before and the pattern didn't tell me how much  to stitch up. If I make it again then I will just catch is together for about a half inch instead of the 3" that I stitched on this one.

I just used an oddment cone of 4ply for this as a test piece. I wrote down the size of my rectangle so that I can repeat it in my own way. I would change the stitch of the border as although it looks OK at the back it looks a bit spidery around the collar area. Even though the wool is fine it crocheted very quickly. Because I have too much sleeve the border is a bit too tight which is why the collar isn't draping properly.

This short jacket started off as one pattern but when I didn't like the pattern stitch used I changed it to twisted UK trebles on one row and plain UK trebles on the next. The yarn that I used is a bit of a mystery yarn. It came on a cone labelled machine yarn but it was thicker than a double knitting and a bit thick for the machine. I realised whilst I was crocheting that the jacket would work out too large if I followed the pattern exactly. It is worked sleeve to sleeve and so I had to ammend lots of the pattern. It has turned out almost my size when it was supposed to be an average ladies size for my Etsy store.

Because of the side to side shape this jacket is very slightly dolman sleeved. I suppose it's good to have something larger on my site as not everyone is a tiny size. Small things are easier to display for photographic purposes. I have ordered a tailor's dummy but when I phoned I was told that it won't arrive until next week. It is holding me up taking better photos for the site.

I  had a couple more patterns in the post today and will probably start one of those whilst I watch TV this evening.One is a 50's style summer jumper. I was hoping to do some machine knitting today but I lacked the inspiration. I must find my knitting mojo again as I have so many machine cones to use up. I still have to finish the maternity sweater for my younger niece. The baby will be here before she gets her sweater if I don't hurry up.

I hope that you all had a good Valentines Day. Special wishes go to Bev (Beverooni) as she got married on Valentines Day 42 yrs ago. Congratulations to you and your hubby.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Vintage Pattern Book

The title is not strictly true as this book A Stitch In Time by Jane Waller and Susan Crawford contains the vintage patterns as they were originally and the updated versions using modern (and  usually a bit thicker) wools that make them easier to knit. I saw it on EBay for half the price on Amazon so even though it was £15 it is a lovely book. Mostly knitted but there is the odd crochet design in there. The designs are from 1920 - 1949. This edition has been signed bySusan Crawford.

This is how the designs appear in part of the book. The original fine knit patterns are included should you like knitting with thin needles and fine wools.  Just the thing for your next holidays. A woolly swimsuit.

A veritable cat walk model for wearing at the beach if you can weather the stares and the snickers.

This fine version is quite wearable as retro and vintage are back in style. The modern version of the same design in slightly thicker wool is also very pretty.

This photo shows how older patterns look when given a modern twist. The original is very pretty in fine wool but this thicker wool seems to make the pattern stitch  'pop' out more.

This is the modern version of underwear. It would make a nice top for over shorts or trousers or worn as a mini dress for the very brave.

I bought this pattern cut price on EBay. It is an older pattern but I still think that it works for today's babies.

I have not been out today. I should be OK tomorrow as the weather is improving and the snow is melting. To be truthful I am still in my dressing gown as it was extremely cold when I first got up so I came down to turn the heating up and never got back upstairs to shower and change. .My long dressing gown was so warm and cosy that I didn't feel like parting with it. I will be closing the curtains in a minute so no-one will see that I never got dressed. I feel so lazy.

I made this yesterday for my Etsy site. I used some Coats cotton that I bought as a job lot from EBay. I would have liked to have made it a bit longer but I didn't have enough cotton. I should have made a smaller chest size to use less cotton but I didn't feel like unpicking what I had already crocheted. Cotton has so few metres per ball.

My friend brought my camera back today complete with the photos that she had taken of my crochet displayed on her tailor's dummy.This is another retro tank top made from an original late 60's pattern.  I would love to buy a tailor's dummy eventually as they do display things so much better. They are quite expensive and as I am trying to reduce my credit card bill and not add to it then I will have to wait. I have a very lightweight body display shape that could work but it doesn't have a stand so I will have to try to adapt it with something to make it stand on it's own. At the moment it just hangs by a hook.

Tonight I should be trying to knit some more of my niece's sweater on the machine but I am having difficulty drumming up enthusiasm for knitting of any kind. I much prefer crocheting. Hmm what shall I start tonight?

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Hi Everybody. I am still Here

Sorry for the lack of blogging in the past few months. As you know I had been feeling very grotty for months and generally very tired and under the weather. It was just as if someone had whacked all of the stuffing out of me. I was still crocheting and knitting but feeling so rotten that I didn't feel like sharing my feelings with anyone via the blog. After a few trips here and there I think that the problem has now been diagnosed. I have diabetes which has apparently been undiagnosed for a while. Just before Christmas I mentioned all of my symptoms to my GP and after a few tests for various things the blood tests came back with Type 2 diabetes.

I am now on Metformin. I am not a special diet as I have not yet had a meeting with the diabetic help nurse. My eyesight has been deteriorating over the last few months so I am also going for a special eye test. After a month of the Metformin I am gradually starting to feel better. Apparently my four bladder infections in the last 6 months are also a sign that something was wrong. I had antibiotics which seemed to work but the infection was back within a month.

I have had my pre op tests done for my left knee operation at the end of February (unless it gets cancelled). I am not having a replacement knee this time. They are just doing an arthroscopy to have a look around inside. I am very dubious about this as last time an arthroscopy made my right knee so bad that I had to have it replaced. Fingers crossed this time. The hospital have also said that my diabetes could be an explanation of why the right knee has never healed properly. I still have all of the swelling and it won't bend properly. I got told the jolly news that I will never be able to ever kneel again and the reason that I struggle with stairs is because it doesn't bend properly. Things can only get better eh?

I have re-opened my Etsy store and am taking photos of finished things that I have been making lately. This Christmas I didn't make anyone any woollies so that should tell you how rotten I was feeling. This is the first Christmas for years. Everyone has I.O.U's for sweaters when I feel a little better.

I did manage 3 craft fairs but I just made small things like hand warmers, headbands and hats.

This is me, taken by the local newspaper, with the knitted Santa Claus and dolls that I was using to make my stall appear more like Christmas. I didn't knit these, I bought them from EBay for display purposes. They are packed away now ready for next Christmas. I don't think that there are any more craft fairs planned in the next few months so I will have to concentrate on Etsy and start a Folksy account which I think is just for crafting in the UK. Etsy has now got so huge that it's difficult to attract people to my store.

One of the hats ready for my Etsy store. The pattern is from Hectanooga from Etsy. She gives her permission to sell things made from her patterns which is good. So many designers won't let you do that. I stick with a lot of vintage patterns or my own designs for that reason.

This hat is a mix of my doodling and a couple of patterns. It is so altered that I doubt that the designers will recognise it as anything to do with their patterns. If I don't like the way that they tell me to crochet something, then I just change it. I found the brim instructions on another pattern so confusing that this is my interpretation.

I made this without a pattern but no doubt it resembles a hundred other hats on Ravelry. I love the flower on this hat but I am annoyed because I can't remember which method I used so I will have to inspect it carefully so that I can repeat it. With flowers I never seem to make any two alike and rarely follow a pattern. I remember methods and interpret them to suit myself.

This tight cowl can be worn as a hood, or just around the neck. I used James C Brett Marble chunky and also made a pair of hand warmers trimmed with crochet flowers to match the hood.

The pattern for this tight cowl can also be bought on Etsy. It is by LoveKnitAndCrochet. The buttons are for show but if you made buttonholes then they could be made to open, This cowl has the band stitched closed. I love the 'silver' rimmed buttons.

The pattern for this waistcoat dates back to the 60's. I have made it 3 times now but I think is the first time that I have made it with the pointed front. I am hoping that this will appeal to to the retro lovers. I made the one for myself in dark shades and much longer and without the points.

This ia a pattern that I made for myself in the 60's which I am hoping will also appeal to the retro lovers. I have also made another similar one in navy, turquoise and white. A friend has my camera at the moment as she is taking some photos of my things on her tailor's dummy so I can't show you much more. She was going to bring the camera back today but is in bed with the flu.

I have also been trying to knit on the knitting machine again. At the moment I am trying to make a maternity sweater for my younger niece but as I don't have a pattern it is all experimentation at the moment. I keep making mistakes and having hiccups with the machine dropping stitches but mostly it's because I don't feel that I am concentrating properly to learn pattern stiches and methods once again. I keep having to refer to my manual all of the time. My friend Claire has a web page selling dresses and skirts in the 1950's style and would like me to make some fine sweaters, tops and boleros in the 50's style to compliment her dresses and skirts. The thought of possible sales for me should be spurring me on but I am still not very motivated. The sweater has only got one piece so far. I was going to knit on the machine all today but I got sidetracked as usual. Some days I feel like I don't do anything and yet the time just whizzes past. When I think of the kind of things that I used to knit, without thinking, on the machine I could cry at my ineptitude. I am sure that I am getting brain fade. I just don't remember things any more. I can do something, master it, leave it for a couple of weeks and then I have forgotten everything and have to start all over again. It's so frustrating. When I read up on the internet about diabetes it did say that one of the effects of it, before treatment, is lack of concentration and general fuzziness so hopefully once I get my levels balanced my brain will sharpen up.

I do get occasional messages asking (sometimes demanding) will I send this pattern or that pattern to them via e mail. If they are my designs then I don't write anything down so I can't send them. If they are modern patterns then sorry but I won't break copyright. All I will do is provide a link to the pattern or book. As for the vintage patterns I have bought a lot of tlem through EBay or Etsy as I had lost a lot of my originals. I am sorry to have to write this but the people who ask are not usually people who are known to me. I don't have a lot of money either and I have to buy my patterns and books. These remarks are not directed at any of my on line friends just the strays who read the blog and like a pattern

Thank you to all of the people who have been enquiring about my health through various people. I do appreciate your concern. I can't promise to blog as I did before but as I am back up to almost normal crochet speed once again then you never know.

Bye for now. I hope that you are all having a nice weekend. We have about an inch of snow which of course is throwing my neighbours into some sort of panic. UK doesn't do snow very well. The grit waggons only ever salt the main roads and as I live on a hill car travel can be a bit precarious once the snow gets compacted and turns to ice.