Knit your own spats?!

I just saw this gorgeous book:

The book is full of amazing olde-timey patterns like these sweet spats:

I want to make them!!

I’ve been secretly desiring a pair of spats for ages and almost bought some in Montreal in August, except they were polyester and cheap looking.  Now, a pattern so I can knit my own!  Hooray!

How cool are spats?

Here are some images for inspiration:

I know it might seem like a bit too much and borderline goth/steampunk, but I think it’s a reasonably wearable look.  However, I am lucky to work in an environment that is pretty flexible as far as what is considered appropriate dress.

That being said I have been a big fan of 19th century saloon-girl style since watching Deadwood… I’ve always dreamed of having the time and patience to buy this Laughing Moon saloon girl pattern and make it:

I find something appealing about the idea of wearing a bustle! However, that being said, I am so happy to live in a Western country in the 21st century when women are basically free to wear whatever they like.  Having to wear a corset, ankle length skirts and high collared tops everyday would not have been comfortable.

More knitting projects…

My colleague’s knitting lesson (thanks Nicola!) has inspired a personal knitting renaissance!  I have just finished another hat (and started a new one…)

Here are some photos of the hat and me looking very proud of myself.

And a close up the patterns I used:

The larger pattern I modeled on a pattern from the book “Mastering Colour Knitting” I got from the library.  While it wasn’t great as far is teaching myself how to knit fair isle or read charts, it does have some great charts in it.  Personally I think knitting is something that needs to be demonstrated visually and doesn’t come across well in books or through pictures alone.  Youtube probably has some great videos (like this one) but I needed a one-on-one demonstration.  Once I saw some one do it, and had the chance to ask questions, it literally look me about 5 minutes to learn.

Here is a scan of some other fairisle charts including a chart for the southerwestern / aztec / navajo inspired pattern I used.

The book has some pretty great patterns in it.  The new hat I am working on will feature more Fair Isle designs as well!  I will post pictures once its done.  The larger patten in the above hat I knitted is adapted from the pattern in the bottom right.

It also has some intarsia charts that I haven’t yet attempted… though in theory it’s the same.  However, instead of carrying the 2nd colour of yarn along with you as you knit, you leave the ball kind of hanging around the one area where you are using it (as far as I understand).

In the fairisle hat above I had some pretty large gaps between colours (13 stitches in some rows).  When knitting in fairisle you end up with “floats” on the wrong side of your knitting, which is the yarn  that is not showing on the right side.  If you have long stretches of a row when you don’t use one of your colours you have to twist it around your active colour to avoid having huge long bits of yarn hanging off the back, as these can get snagged on fingers and earrings etc.  I did a twist to catch the 2nd colour every 5 or so stitches.

Knitting in fairisle uses more yarn than regular stockinette, but also creates warmer garments because often you have 2 (or more) strands of yarn going throughout your piece.

So my head is nice and toasty :)

Knitting project no. ?

Here in New Zealand Native American/southwestern prints are really big this year and I decided I wanted to learn how to knit my own Aztec patterned accessories. I would consider myself an “intermediate” level knitter. I have always been intimidated by knitting charts and scared to try, but I got a few books out from […]

more sewing adventures

I put away the chiffon for the time being and am instead trying to use up some my more wild prints.  The fabrics themselves inspired these two new dresses I made this week:

This print reminded me of something vaguely southwestern and Mexican.  So my first idea was a kind of poncho-like dress, but, that looked terrible on me, so I gathered the shoulders and put some pleats in the front and back at the waist, and voilà!  I didn’t use any kind of pattern for this dress… I just cut out a neck hole, sewed up the sides, and then added the pleats & gathers.

This print is so awesome and big and beautiful that I realised it needed to be showcased in a large format.  I haven’t really gotten on board with the maxi dress trend, though I do have one I bought in Laos that is a pretty Thai floral cotton print, but I usually just wear it for pyjamas.  However after watching Project Runway I decided I should go for a maxi with this amazing 70’s print.  I looked at a few tutorials, like Made By Lex’s Maxi Dress Tutorial, and the SoHo Maxi Dress tutorial and just started cutting.  I was limited by the amount of fabric I had… and the top turned out a bit skimpy, so I have to wear something under it if I want it to be office-appropriate, even with a cardigan.  Again, I didn’t use a pattern, but instead cut out the skirt based on my measurements, and then made 4 triangles for the top.  I used the twisty-strap idea from Lex’s tutorial, but did an empire waist rather than break up the print with a lower waist or waistband.  Both of these dresses came together in… under 2 or 3 hours each, and hopefully will get a lot of wear this summer! Unfortunately I still have a massive pile of fabric waiting to be turned into something fabulous, but, like my thesis, slowly and surely I am getting through it.

Also recently I knitted an iPod/iPhone cozy that I quite like.  In fact, I liked it so much, I knitted another one.  I may even start on a 3rd soon.

2011 knitting project #3

I can’t remember if I finished the oven mitt in 2011 or 2010, but regardless, I finally finished my first ever hot water bottle cozy.  Boy will I be prepared for Nana-hood.  The other day I was actually sitting on the sofa, knitting, while listening to talk radio as some muffins baked.

Anyway, here is my hottie cozy, which I finished just in time for the summer, and will largely go unused until May.  I am considering felting it… just to make it extra insulating.

These are the kinds of things one must do when there is no one to snuggle up against at night.  *sigh*


Wellington earthquake

Just when you thought it was safe to put a teapot on the top of your kitchen cupboards…

a 4.5 magnitude earthquake shakes your kitchen!

Ok, not exactly.  Yes, there was an earthquake in Wellington on Monday night.  Yes it was 4.5 magnitude.  Yes, a lot of people felt it.

No, I did not feel it, and no, it did not shake my teapots.

In fact, I probably would never have even known there had been an earthquake if Ticker hadn’t called me from work, where he informed me that the entire kitchen at Maria Pia’s (the establishment where he is employed) was shaking.  Thanks to that call, I barely slept a wink all night.

Now… should I take the wine bottles and teapots down off the top of the cupboard?

Oh, in unrelated news, I also wanted to mention that I recently participated in Wellington’s “Round the Bays” 7-km fun-run, my first time ever participating in an organized sporting event.  At a pretty slow jogging pace I completed the 7 km run in just under 52 minutes.  I am certainly proud of myself.  Will I go for a 10 km or half marathon next?  Pretty unlikely.  Running more than an hour is pretty boring.  I’d rather stay at home and knit while watching Louis Theroux documentaries.

Speaking of knitting, I have been on a rampage lately!  I finished a tea cozy last week, and am about 75% done with my first ever pair of mittens!  I shall post pictures time permitting.  I have also been doing quite a bit of sewing and baking, much to the detriment of my progress on my research.  My most recent interest has been in savoury muffins.  A sample recipe follows – spice it up with your own personalized additions!

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 tbs baking powder
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese (colby or cheddar are nice)
  • 1/4 cup toasted seeds (sunflower or pumpkin are nice)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (I used parsley and sage)
  • a pinch of salt
  • pepper
  • 2 tbs sweet chili sauce
  • 1 tsp crushed dried hot chili flakes

mix and match your favorite savoury ingredients, including stuff like:

  • spring onions
  • walnuts
  • blue cheese bits
  • bacon
  • ham
  • olives
  • sauteed mushrooms
  • corn
  • fresh tomatoes
  • chopped spinach
  • goat cheese
  • a handful of chopped sundried tomatoes
  • 1/2 an onion, finely sliced and carmelized

Whatever you throw in, don’t over do it, remember “less is more” when it comes to flavours, and just be careful not to overmix your batter, or the muffins will come out tough and rubbery.  Mix everything together with a few swift strokes of a spoon or knife, until just combined,  Spoon into greased muffin tins, sprinkle a bit more cheese on top, and bake at 375 F/180 C for 25 – 30 minutes or until golden brown.

They’re great on their own, or served with a nice bowl of soup.

Hrm… now I’m hungry.