Vintage Knitting, Retro Dressmaking, Make do and Mend, Original and Vintage Inspired Knitting Patterns, Vintage Inspired books

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

"Christmas pudding debacle leads to new dessert being created"

pudding 1

I hope a wonderful christmas day was had by all. We had a lovely time at home with family members dropping in throughout the day.

There had however been a temporary panic on my part when my required ingredients for my christmas day dessert, a passionfruit trifle from a Nigella Lawson recipe, were unavailable. The best laid plans of mice and men...

So, a bit of creative thought on christmas eve was required. In the kitchen was the remains of a pannatone going a bit stale, and in the drinks cabinet (sideboard!) was a bottle of apricot brandy that I have never known what to do with.

I sliced the pannatone into triangles and laid the pieces in a deep dish and poured about a quarter of the bottle of apricot brandy over, squashed it all down a bit with a spatula, covered in cling film and put it in the fridge over night.

On christmas morning I took the dish out of the fridge, took off the cling film and poured another quarter bottle of the brandy over. Returned it all to the fridge until about an hour before dinner was due to be ready.

I then made a basic custard (about a pint)- not to thick (as it thickens when cooked) - and poured this over the pannatone/brandy mixture. I then sprinkled dark muscavado sugar all over the top. The oven was already on at 200 degrees (not fan assisted) so I popped the dish in at this temperature and left it cooking for about an hour. When the main course was served I switched the oven off but left the dish in the oven with foil over the top to stop it drying out.


I then served it warm with very thick double cream. And it was wonderful. Not too heavy as pannatone is quite light and the apricot flavour works like a dream.


(The pannatone was actually from the beginning of the year and had been wrapped in greaseproof paper and was still relatively fresh, but it does need to be drying out to work properly, as it would go quite sloppy with very fresh pannatone. Stale bread with sultanas and candied peel added would also work well)

Hope you like it.

for now
Ruby xxx

Friday, December 21, 2007

Early christmas presents

The panic has passed for now. 95% of pressies bought, food shopping organised, menus planned, visits/visitors arranged. Just got wrapping, tidying, cooking, cleaning to do, last minute bits to buy, but its getting there.

I had what felt like an early christmas present yesterday, spending over 3 hours at the hairdressers (with the length and amount of my hair this is quite normal)during WORK time, feeling completely relaxed and getting the time whilst under driers to re-read one of my all time favourite books.

Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

<chronicle of a death foretold

It is 122 pages of fabulousness, pulling you in from the first brilliant opening line:

"On the day they were going to kill him, Santiago Nasar got up at five-thirty...."

What could be better? It gets you by the throat, drags you in and doesn't let go until the end. What a way to spend a few hours on a gloomy winters afternoon with all the rush and fever of christmas going on round you but being so absorbed in this other world that you noticed none of it. (Deep satisfied sigh)

I also received in the post a little christmas pressie to myself:- the latest two issues of Rebecca magazines.

Rebecca 34

Number 34

Rebecca 35

and Number 35

There are some lovely designs in both magazines. I would say out of the two, No 35 is my favourite, with so many candidates for knitting I couldn't pick out one design alone.

Rebecca images

Rebecca images

These are just some of the great designs. Rebecca have all the images available to preview on their site, starting here

I really love the first two on the left on the top row and the grey dress and wrap on the second row.

I ordered the magazines from RKM wools in Shrewsbury. You have to ring as they're not available from their online shop, but I ordered Friday and received them Monday, which at this time of year is even more impressive.

I'm going to try and fit in a final blog before festivities start with my WIP/UFO list and photos but if not, or you don't return before, I hope everyone has a Happy Holiday

for now
Ruby xxx

Monday, December 17, 2007

I did a bad thing...

Did I make my list of WIPs and UFOs to work on before I started on anything else?
Like I promised? Did I?


Instead whilst christmas shopping on Saturday my LYS lured me in and then tempted me to buy this gorgeous shade of Freedom 100% wool from Twilleys

Twilleys Freedom yarn

It was reduced. It is pure wool and I have got a reason for buying it.

I have been promising my ever patient other half that I would knit him the Patchwork sweater from knitonthenet

patchwork sweater

So I have cast on yet another project.

patchwork cast on

patchwork close up 1

patchwork close up 2

But isn't it lovely?
Watching it change constantly is fascinating, and the yarn is beautifully soft and pliable. Now all I need to do is finish it in time for christmas!

so, for now

Ruby xx

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Sloppy Joe FO

Finally here are some photos of Sloppy Joe from Rowan Studio 6 pattern book, made in Rowan Cocoon

sloppy joe

I haven't had a chance to have any taken with me wearing sloppy joe yet, but it is actually quite a flattering sweater. You definately have to wear something underneath it as the neckline is VERY low and possibly a bit too wide, but I do really like it, its soft and cuddly and wonderfully sloppy. I noticed on the photo the centre slip stitch looks a bit crooked. It isn't in reality, but I mustn't have had the garment quite straight. But I've got a cold and I'm very tired and will take more photos when feeling a bit brighter!

This is a close up of the picked up V neck

sloppy joe v neck

I divided the neck slope with pins and had to work approx 2 or 3 stitches into each dropped loop in the pattern, I did this by making a cast on stitch by hand and 'wrapping' it round the needle.

I used a 5mm crochet hook to attach the sleeve to the body on the inside of the garment using double crochet (UK) single crochet (US). I did a similar thing on the body and sleeve seams but only on the garter stitch sections. As I reached a dropped loop section I pulled a longer loop with the crochet hook to the same length as the dropped loop and then with a long strand worked a slip stitch then continued with the double (single) crochet to the next dropped loop.

This is what it looks like from the inside of the garment

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and what it looks like from the right side

fside seam right side

And finally, I managed one nice slightly arty shot

sloppy joe side

I am really looking forward to wearing this sweater. The Rowan Cocoon was a pleasure to work with and is very soft and warm and I would definately use it again. It is quite expensive per ball but when you think it only took 6 balls to make this (very big and long) sweater in a large it is actually very economical.

Will be starting on my WIP list tomorrow.

for now
Ruby xx

Sunday, December 09, 2007

New patterns, my lovely SP11 and finally, Sloppy Joe

Issue 4 of knitonthenet went live a couple of days ago and in my usual disorganised way I'm only just managing to blog about my new patterns. I love this issue. I am planning to make Limulidae cowl and hat by Neal Swain Its a beautiful design and would be so useful.

The first of my designs is my first foray into sock pattern writing.

Love Heart socks

These are Love Heart socks named after my favourite sweeties of the same name. I used Natural Dye Studio's gorgeous Alpaca and Silk 4ply yarn. It is beautiful.

I normally make socks up as I go along so it was a good discipline to write a properly structured pattern this time.

I'm really pleased with the gusset on these socks. Come out so nice.

Love Heart socks gusset

I've talked alot about Giles Deacon this season and my Giles bag is my homage to his oversized cables.

Giles bag

I so enjoyed making this bag and particular loved making the handle out of a giant sized cable.

Giles handle

There's so much more I want to explore using cables like this.

And finally my lovely Blanche

Blanche Sweater

This is going to be one of those patterns that I'm going to knit again and again, sometimes with some changes, sometimes exactly as is. It is just a perfect sweater for every occasion and so flattering. I love her.

Blanche Sweater Back

I struggled naming her though. In my head the whole time I was designing her was Elizabeth Taylor in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof but in it she's called Maggie (the cat) but the name just didn't fit. So I ended up having a Tennessee Williams moment and thinking about Streetcar named Desire thought about Blanche Dubois and the name seemed just right. I'm going to make a green Blanche over christmas. I would also like to make an evening version using something like Tilli Thomas Exotica for the neckline.

I went and picked up a BIG package yesterday from our sorting office from my lovely secret pal Eeva also known as Rieppa, who has spoiled me so completely its as if christmas came early.

Here is my package

secret pal

There is a gorgeous tin box featuring the Moomins (which my daughter loves, but isn't getting!) beautiful beads, these wonderful surface protectors

surface protectors

aren't they just fantastic.

Now for the yarn

secret pal yarns

from the left is Novita Florica 100% wool. I have a couple of Novita pattern books and love their yarns. Next is Merino Oro from Ornaghi filati of Italy, pure wool. I dont know this make but the yarn is beautiful and would make a lovely shawl.
Next is an Estonian yarn Evilla with fabulous sea kelp shades of green and advise from Rieppa about a pattern for it.

And if all thats not enough, this gorgeous hand dyed wool/alpaca blend from Juuli

hand spun

I'm speechless Eeva, what can I say? Thank you so much.

And now, drum roll, long overdue, the first part of finishing off Sloppy Joe from Rowan Studio 6.

My first step was to do Short row shaping and three needle bind off on the shoulders so there is no internal bulky seam on the shoulders. This is how it looks from the right side

three needle bind off

with just a nice line of chains sitting on the shoulder. The stitches highlighted on this photo make it a bit clearer which are the bound off stitches.

bound off chain

So, to work this method you have to work differently to specified in the pattern from just before 'shape shoulders and back neck'. Instead of finishing with a RS row facing, stop with a WS row facing and then knit the row, stopping at the point where your cast off stitches would be on the next row. I'm knitting the large, so in my case I would knit up to the last 11 sts on the left needle, wrap the next st by slipping the st and taking the yarn round it, turn the work, and work back for 14 sts (for the large), turn, leaving rem sts on holder.

Cast off 3sts for centre back neck, knit across rem sts, knitting wrapped st in with wrap. Leave these sts on a holder.

Cast off centre sts as directed in pattern then work other side to match reversing shapings.

The front shoulders are worked in the same way. To be sure you have each shoulder right remember that shoulder shaping slopes down from centre back. Place shoulders of front and back together with WS facing inwards, the slopes should match. Put stitches back onto a needle each, then with a third needle knit 1 stitch from 1st needle together with 1 stitch from 2nd needle, repeat, then cast off 1 st on 3rd needle off over 2nd st on 3rd needle. Continue until all stitches are cast off. Repeat on other shoulder. If you turn the sweater inside out there is no seam at all.


for now, (I'm going to lie down in a dark room)
Ruby xx

Monday, December 03, 2007

Not quite but nearly

This last week has been so, so crazy busy that I really can't believe its Monday again already. I have new patterns that I am itching to reveal that are in the latest issue of knitonthenet, but it isn't quite ready yet. It will be out in just a couple of days and then I can show them. But then once they are 'out there' I am going to spend a few weeks getting organised. I am going to do a list of WIPs, prioritise them, and get them done. I normally go away for a little while over christmas but I need to be careful this year as I have my house extension to furnish, decorate, floor, heat, light etc etc.

So anyway, during my two weeks off I am going to knit and sew, and sew and knit all the time. Even on christmas day I shall knit. I plan to have designs ready for submissions, for some commissions I'm working on, some exclusive patterns for the forthcoming justcallmeruby website and a number of other things that I can't talk about right now!

The first thing I am going to do is finish off Sloppy Joe's photos and post the finishing techniques I used on the blog. I PROMISE.

I also need to do some remedial work to my lovely extension. My lovely wooden doors and windows that I designed have been fitted and my builder kindly offered to undercoat them as he owed me a favour or two as he's taken so long doing this job. Anyway, I offered to mask the glass and my stylish art deco handles but he said it was fine, they would do it. I finally got a good look at the finished job at the weekend, and there was undercoat all round the glass and all over the handles. They hadn't masked or cleaned up after themselves at all. They had also closed the french doors while the paint was still wet and the doors where stuck together. We had to climb through the living room window into the extension to force the doors open!

Can anyone recommend an efficient but relatively speedy way of removing the undercoat from the windows? I could scrape them all but each door alone has 21 panes of glass!

Maybe this is how I'll actually be spending christmas.

for now

Ruby xx

Monday, November 26, 2007

Lots of vintage goodies

I went to the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching show at the weekend. There weren't as many yarn stalls there as I would have liked, Rowan weren't there at all which was very disappointing, and I missed the one stall selling the latest Rebecca mag and they had shut by the time I found them, BUT...

I got some fantastic vintage patterns. The first one is this Simplicity pattern, which is just a wonderfully wearable simple dress.

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The proportions are lovely, you could add sleeves, you could reverse the neckline and have a v neck front. So versatile.

The next on is this fantastic 'Slenderette' dress suit. The green dress in the centre is just perfect. Think will make this one exactly as is.

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The third pattern is a skirt suit with amazing shaping on the jacket and is a Vogue Couturier design original. For just a skirt and jacket there are 16 pieces to the pattern. I love the hat in the illustration as well, but don't think I'll be wearing one.

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And my favorite is this beautiful, gorgeous, wonderful, lovely Simplicity dress pattern

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The scoop neck front is the one for me. The description on the pattern reads: Misses' one-piece dress with detachable cummerbund. Bodice styled with a box pleat at center front, small tucks on each side of pleat and sleeves cut in one with bodice. Full skirt is gathered, with version having a low neckline trimmed with a band that ties at center front. It requires 5 and a half yards of fabric.

I also bought three lots of fabric which I will TRY and photograph. I am still failing miserably to even get colours looking anything like reality. I would really like to invest in some lighting but not got the money right now.

I also found this Stitchcraft from November 1950 and fell in love with this jacket on the back cover.

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The original was made using Patons Beehive DK yarn and 4mm needles with a standard double knit tension. Have a large stock of Jo Sharp DK wool that could come in very handy.

My other pattern purchase was the Crochet me book by Kim Werker published by Interweave press

There are quite a few designs in it that I really like including 'mesmerize' sweater, 'Victorian Wrap' and this one 'i'm a convert' sweater. Love this one.

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Have my Sloppy Joe making up instructions written up but still waiting for good enough photos I'm afraid, but will be on their way soon.

The next issue of knitonthenet is out next week. Looking forward to showing my designs. I've done my first sock pattern using Natural Dye Studio yarn. It was a joy to knit with. It runs through your fingers like a dream and is soft yet strong (like the loo paper).

Will be back soon with more,

but for now
Ruby xx

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Sick of the weather

Have tried unsuccessfully to get some good useable photos of Sloppy Joe but the lack of light is causing me a lot of problems. Have noticed when blog reading that everyone's having the same problem. It really is just so dark and dismal. I am going to have another go again today. I also have finished projects from members of TLC to show aswell. Trying to photograph them last night was a complete disaster. Their first finished garments and they look great. Can't wait to show them. In the meantime have you seen this incredible fashion shoot of Giles Deacon's work in Wonderland magazine.

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It has become a fabulous art installation. Love/hate?

Hope to see you tomorrow with some photos of my own.

for now
Ruby xxx

Monday, November 19, 2007

Internet problems

I've been trying to fix my blog according to internet explorer 6. I didn't realise there was a problem as I use Firefox so found out unexpectedly that my blog looks wrong on explorer 6. All my links to free patterns, online groups etc were all at the bottom of the page - next to the first post of each month. Which means most people probably never see them if they are just reading the latest post.

This all came about whilst discussing the forthcoming NEW website with the website designer (my beloved). Some techy stuff which I don't profess to understand was being explained and lo and behold the blog was viewed on explorer and the problem revealed itself. The complexities and differences between systems leaves me baffled.

Anyway the blog is fixed now and here is a little sneaky preview of my new homepage

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And this is the navigator bar. Don't you just love the cutting line and scissors.

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Its just so lovely. Its been great to be able to say, I'ld like this and I'ld like that and everything I designed on paper or asked for is there. Extra links and pages are already being built in so I can add my dresses to it when I'm ready, ready made knitwear and 'sewing patterns'. These are going to take a bit of working on but I will get there.

I was so excited to see my designs all displayed at the Stitch 'n Bitch day. Here's a photo of a section of the knitonthenet stand with Lost in Music, Angora hearts cardigan, retro cloche and Unshaped shrug all in shot.

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And as this little beauty has now been on public display I can show you the Frilly Jumper from 'A Stitch in Time' in all her glory.

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The garment is made in Habu natural dyed 'Kusaki Zome' Silk and the frills are edged in Habu A-20 Stainless Steel. I just love the idea of using the natural silk with the man made steel and I've finally got something to show on the Habu KAL

I'm going to start posting tomorrow on finishing off Sloppy Joe from Rowan Studio 6.
I'll be starting with the short row shaping for the shoulders and picking up the stitches for the deep V neck.

but for now
Ruby xxx

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Where does the time go?

Yet another week (and a bit) have passed without the chance to write up my blog. There really has been so much to do I'm meeting myself coming back. In addition, my daughter has started her mock GCSE's and needs someone to help with revision. My french and spanish accents are dramatically improving even though I don't really understand what I'm saying. I'm sure she'll do well despite her constant worrying.

I received two early christmas pressies from my beloved this week. The first is the book of the exhibition at the V&A (Victoria & Albert) 'The Golden Age of Couture' Paris and London 1947-1957

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It is a beautiful book with a very detailed history of the era with particular reference (obviously) to Christian Dior and Balenciaga. Every garment in it is as contemporary today as it was then.

Then to follow on with my couture experience an equally wonderful book

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which is a fabulous techniques book aimed at the home dressmaker. For example there are eight different buttonhole techniques:

two colour

It really is fantastic.

At the weekend I met my lovely ex-secret pal, Emma, and had a lovely if far too brief conversation. I look forward to seeing you again Emma.

It was lovely to see my designs for knitonthenet displayed at the Stitch 'n Bitch Day and it reminded me that first and foremost I am a fashion designer. There was a definate cohesion amongst the designs and it was great to get feedback on people's opinions of them. It was also very complimentary but VERY scary, to be told there was a fashion designer asking if they could take photographs of my work. They were politely declined. There is no such thing as a truly original design anymore but I can't think of any reason why a fellow designer would want photographs of my work unless they were thinking of copying it. It has happened before and its a horrible feeling. Maybe I'm being too suspicious but...

I am absolutely, 100% definately, going to post within the week this time, I'm determined.

but, for now,

Ruby xxx

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

knitonthenet group on ravelry

I have set up a ravelry group for knitonthenet fans. There seems to be a group for everyone else so knitonthenet have got one now. If you're on ravelry do come along and join me there!
I've never hosted a group before. Does it make me important? Don't think so somehow.

Two things got me thinking about Kim Hargreaves' influence on my knitting over the last few days. I received a copy of Heartfelt, Kim's new book of patterns.

And I took Rowan book 26 off my bookshelf on Sunday night, looking for something, and went through the book page by page. Before reading any information I knew the name of the designer of each and every pattern! We're on book 42 now so that's EIGHT years ago and I still knew who had designed what. And of course, the majority of the designs were Kim's. And it dawned on me that I have knitted more designs by Kim Hargreaves than by anyone else other than myself. In fact, I've knitted so many I've lost track. I've knitted Core three times. I noticed that Jane over at Yarnstorm had also listed Kim as a major influence and I'm sure she's influenced many more people.

So back to her new book. I just love it. Its everything I love about Kim's work. Design pared down, with beautifully thought out detail. The colour palette and design of the book itself are lovely too. Thank you Kim.

My eight year old niece has also taken up knitting. Her school has actually started an after school knitting club. Fantastic. Here she is working very hard.

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She couldn't put her knitting down when she came to visit and went out with grandma who bought her some more needles and yarn.

On a personal knitting front I've been helping getting everything ready for the Stitch 'n Bitch day on Saturday, so haven't got a lot to show right now, but if you are going to the show there are going to be some beautiful garments on display and a preview of the next issue. There are also going to be hard copies of the patterns available if any one wants a 'proper' version, and I've just got my lovely new business cards back from the printers which will be available to take away!

but for now,

Ruby xx

Monday, October 29, 2007

Thank you secret pal

I received a wonderful parcel today from my lovely secret pal from Finland. Thank you so much Eeva. I was very worried when I first saw the package as there was a sticker attached to it from the Royal Mail apologising for damaging the package and they hoped nothing was broken or missing! But when I opened it everything was intact and present.

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At the front is Drops Alpaca from Garn studio, I've never had any of their yarn before and I'm so excited. There are also two skeins of Lanka Pirkanmaan which is a pure wool produced in Finland

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There is also a beautifully scented natural soap called Forest Magic with this beautiful write up on the back:

"All seasons of the year are magic in the forest. Each season has its own special smells, colours, and music. My favorites are the fall and spring. Fir trees have a special scent, almost as if they are getting ready to slow down for the winter. Sap runs more slowly as the cold weather approaches...."

In addition to these wonderful presents there is also this wonderful wooden fox

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Such a great idea, you put it on the edge of a saucepan to hold the lid up to let the steam escape. I love it.

Finally there is a beautiful wooden charm necklace that I'm wearing now and forgot to photograph but is gorgeous and will photograph next time. You can just see it in the first photo.

Thank you again secret pal.

I went into the garden at the weekend and took some photos of the garden before it goes to sleep.

This is my little oak tree now one year old

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Hopefully he will be here long after I have gone. The garden has been a building site for a whole year now and yet nature still finds a way. This plant/weed - don't know which - had found a place to grow amongst the debris

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and this lovely dandelion clock looking absolutely perfect

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I treated myself to two skeins of this gorgeous yarn by mirasolperu called Hacho. Its 100% hand dyed merino wool spun in Peru. A portion of each sale goes towards the funding of a school in a remote part of Peru. There's something about the colours that despite them being olive and sage greens, mustard and gold they seem bright and summery as the sun is shining through them, especially when photographed on this cool piece of 1970's fabric from my stash.

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Plans now afoot for all manner of lovely things.

for now
Ruby xx