Friday, 17 June 2016

Wendy's Week - Kitty Cuddles & Compelling Yarns

Hello lovely people I hope you are having a great week and the sun is shining brightly where you are!

Its been a bit quiet around this blog over the last few weeks, I didn't intend to miss so many weeks of posting, but I have been in the doldrums lately which has meant I haven't really felt like posting or doing anything much worth posting about. Anyway I am attempting to pull myself out of it as we all know its pointless to worry about things you have no control over so I am diving head first in to another Wendy's Week, which is actually three weeks rolled into one but heck who's counting! So here is what I have been up to...

Kitty Cuddles & Compelling Yarns ~
-23rd May - 12th June -
The Butterfly Balcony: Wendy's Week Kitty Cuddles & Compelling Yarns - Marrows ready to be planted // Me and the fury one // Finished Socks // New book and new knitting // My Airfix addiction continues // Pretty Peony in my garden
Marrows ready to be planted // Me and the fury one // Finished Socks //
New book and new knitting // My Airfix addiction continues // Pretty Peony in my garden

- Finished my first pair of socks! I am really happy with them and they took a lot less time than I had expected, a proper blog post to follow shortly!

- Finally got a photo of me and Beau. It has taken four years but at last I have a picture of me and the fury one in which he almost looks pleased to be there, he is actually looking over my shoulder for an escape route and a second after this photo was taken he wriggled free from my loving hug, but its a nice if slightly untrue representation of our relationship, so I am keeping it!

The Butterfly Balcony: Wendy's Week Kitty Cuddles & Compelling Yarns - Airfix Hurricane- Making progress on my Hurricane. Now that its all stuck together, I've got the best bit left to do and thats painting and sticking on the decals, which means it is almost finished! Once painted I just need to glue on the propeller and pilots canopy and then it will be complete, I can't tell you how nice it has been to have something a little bit different and absorbing to work on when your brain is firing off with a million different worries, its has an almost meditation feel to it as I find it so absorbing its difficult to think of anything but simply painting, oh and not getting paint everywhere!

- Sorted through my pattern stash I decided that it was about time I properly sorted through my copious sewing pattern collection and had a little cull of some which I know I will never use, this is much harder than it sounds as I don't know if every seamstress feels the same but there is always that niggling 'one day I might need it' thought running through my head when it comes to sewing patterns, I can be rather ruthless other things I collect but sewing patterns are my weakness. Anyway I have a few I managed to put in the out pile and so I will to add to the giveaway I am planning on the blog in the next few weeks!

The Butterfly Balcony: Wendy's Week Kitty Cuddles & Compelling Yarns - Knitting and Audibooks

- Started a new knitting project & Audiobook. I've decided to have a go at knitting a shawl, I was so in love with my pink/purple sock yarn that I bought a few weeks back that I decided to dedicate two balls of the four I had to knitting up a shawl. Its not something that I have ever fancied doing before but after finishing my socks I wanted to keep knitting but wanted something very simple and something I could show off this pretty yarn a little better with so I cast on a Be Simple Variations Shawl which I had found for free on Ravelry. I have been enjoying watching it grow quite quickly and have found that I have been able to multitask up a storm with listening to this months audiobook, The Girl On The Train which as been quite a gripping listen, its totally not something I would ordinarily choose as I tend to read more vintage crime and historical stuff but it has been a welcome break to all that and I enjoyed it so much so that I managed to finish it within a few knitting aided sittings!

The Butterfly Balcony: Wendy's Week Kitty Cuddles & Compelling Yarns - Planting up the Victory Garden

- Been digging and planting on the plot. I have been also keeping myself busy on the allotment! I have planted 5 short rows of potatoes and 2 rows of runner beans along with some onions, its a small amount but with the weather being bonkers (England seems to be going through monsoon season) over the last few weeks which has made it difficult to get as much digging done as I need to as I have sweetcorn, marrows, pumpkin and broccoli to plant up once I can get the soil ready, hopeful this weekend we might fare a bit better with the weather!

~ Me-Made May 2016 Week 4 ~

The Butterfly Balcony: Wendy's Week Kitty Cuddles & Compelling Yarns - Me Made May 2016 Week 4

Oh yeah its now super late but here are the home made garments I wore for the last week in Me-Made May. First was my second version of Butterick 5748 (the first is the purple and black plaid one I wore here) in a heavy 60's style curtain fabric I bought from Abakhans in Liverpool at the tender age of 21 to make curtains for my bedroom (I was in my 60's psychedelia phase) I never made the curtains so its was in my stash for a long time before being set free! Next was my Self draft red jersey dress which I made from the same pattern as my Swallow print dress (see in the header my Beau cuddling dress), which I wore again this week, both are made from my tried and tested pattern from Sew U Home Stretch!

I failed miserably most weeks in hitting my three item target and I think this is for two reasons, one is now that I cycle to work I find it easier to wear the same old RTW stuff most days as which makes getting fully changed at work in to a dress or something nicer, a bit less practical, so allot of what I used to wear on a daily basis instead gets saved for the weekend. The second and this is something I was aware at from the start, is that I only seem to make summer clothes and mostly dresses so my homemade wardrobe is much less practical than my life actually calls for. This is something I am going to try (begin) to remedy this weekend as I'm planning to immerse myself in some bright and colourful sewing projects to fill the void in my wardrobe and it might help cheer me up to boot!

I hope you have a lovely weekend wherever you are!
Wendy x

Friday, 27 May 2016

Wendy's Week - Knitting & more Knitting

Hello again I hope you are all having a super week!
I must say this week was a quiet one for me and as you might have guessed from the title there was a lot of one thing in particular...

~ Knitting & more Knitting ~
- 16th - 22nd May -
Published my Sunday Pictorial Beret // Did some work on my Plot // Everyone Brave is Forgiven
Singed the Home Fires Petition // Progress on my socks // Beau trying to hypnotise me in to getting his dinner

- I signed the Save Home Fires Petition. I actually did this last week but forgot to mention it, I was alerted to this by lovely Joe from Josie-Mary, that ITV in their infinite wisdom have decide to not to recommission another series of Home fires, WHAT! I know a show about women of the WI during WWII may not everyone's cup of tea, but to leave its fans with such a massive (if slightly ridiculous) cliffhanger is unkind, especially after this last series I feel I have grown more attached to these characters and want to know what is to become of them and their knitwear! Argh, its so unfair (has teenage style flailing arm strop) so if you think Home Fires should be recommissioned too, then you can sign the petition here, lets hope it makes a difference and even if ITV are not up for it, perhaps someone else might be!

- I discovered the wonderful world of audio books. Last month I decided to give Audible a try as I thought it might be a good way to increase my book reading level (or being read to level). When you sign up you get a months free trial, which equates to the download of one audiobook, so I decided to start my trial with a book I spotted when at the airport a few weeks back and I though it looked interesting, Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave. Its set during the early part of the second world war and follows the lives of four young friends as they encounter not only the ever present war of nations, but also the ever present wars in society, of class, race and love. I did struggle at first and was in to minds to continue listening, the book is narrated by Luke Thompson and he does an admirable job of creating different voices for each of the characters, but initially I found his female voices a little irritating, however I persevered and I am pleased I did as it is a beautifully written book, some of the descriptions of war torn London are simply stunning and the attention to historical detail is astounding. I finished listening to this week and I would totally recommend giving it a read, or even a listen!

- Knitting & more knitting.  Something I discovered this week was that knitting is the perfect accompaniment to listening to audio books, this is partly why all I feel I have really done this week was knit! I've been working on my Hermione's Everyday Socks, I have chosen to make my first pair in the drops 09 Turquoise/Purple, yarn which is so pretty, and is knitting up quite well, the yarn is a little fluffy so its quite easy to spilt stitches while knitting but it is so pretty I will forgive it. Plus I finally figured out how to do the magic loop with circular needles which took me awhile, I found once I persevered past the first few wobbly looking rows, it all became much less difficult and I think has fallen in to place, I guess the next sock will really determine how much I have remembered! Im nearly finished my first sock, just the foot to go, so I'm hoping to cast on the second this weekend fingers crossed!

~ Me-Made May 2016 Week 3 ~

Again this week I only managed two garments, though I did wear my newly finished beret fro a few hours till it got too hot so its almost three! First was my jersey Swallow print dress, which is made from my tried and tested pattern from Sew U Home Stretch, its another I have yet to blog about but is the same pattern as my Self Drafted Red Dress and is lovely and comfy to wear, despite the fabric being just a bit too see through! I also wore my Spring For Cotton Kim Dress I made last year in my Odhams print fabric, I am hoping to get allot of wear from this again this summer, if the weather holds out!
I must say one thing this Me-Made May has taught me, which I honestly didn't realise before, is just how much I like purple! Much of my me-made wardrobe so far has had a purple hue, even the beret I've just finished and the socks I've just started are purple, and looking at many of my vintage dresses the same can be said there too! It seems my colour comfort zone has moved away from black and on to purple, which I don't mind at all I just wish someone had told me!

Have you any plans for the weekend?
Wendy x

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Knit It - Sunday Pictorial Beret

~ Sunday Pictorial Beret ~
Designer: Susan Crawford
Yarn: 2 balls of 4ply Rowan Cashsoft in Loganberry & Deep
Needles: 3.25mm / US 3 / UK 10

I started this beret to use up some stash yarn, way back in 2012, January 22nd 2012, if Ravelry is to be believed, but it has taken me four and a bit more years to actually call it finished and put it on my head!

The Butterfly Balcony: Knit It - Sunday Pictorial Beret from A Stitch In Time Vol.2

The pattern comes from Susan Crawford's fabulous knitting bible A Stitch In Time Vol.2, and is adapted from an original 1930s pattern published in the Sunday Pictorial. When I first saw it I instantly wanted to make it, but as usual I couldn't decide what colour to choose, after a bit of stash raiding I initially choose a soft browny-beige shade, which looked almost identical to the original in the book, but as I was knitting, I was gradually falling out of love with it, as its wasn't a colour which felt very 'me' and I knew I if I didn't love it now then I certainly wouldn't wear it when it was done!

The Butterfly Balcony: Knit It - Sunday Pictorial Beret from A Stitch In Time Vol.2

So I frogged it and went back to my stash to find this wonderfully squishy Cash Soft yarn by Rowan, in a gorgeous dusky blue shade and cast back on! I realised pretty quickly that I wasn't going to have enough yarn to finish, so I ripped it back again and this time added in some stripes, in another Cash Soft shade, a lovely purple hue called Loganberry.

The Butterfly Balcony: Knit It - Sunday Pictorial Beret from A Stitch In Time Vol.2

The beret is made up in a garter stitch pattern (knit every row, no purl rows) which means it is very simple to knit and would be great as a starter project for those getting in to knitting. Also unusually for berets its knitted flat, on two needles rather than four, and so is wonderful for a bit of quick, mindless knitting with a bit of row shaping every now and then to create the wonderful spiralling centre shaping!

The Butterfly Balcony: Knit It - Sunday Pictorial Beret from A Stitch In Time Vol.2

If its so easy and quick to knit, I hear you ask, then why has it taken you so long to finish?
Well it spent most of those years lurking in my UFO pile, simply because I could not decide on what to do about the embellishment that should be sewn over the seam. If you look at the original pattern here, you will see that there are two delicate bows which I believe are stitched over the back seam to disguise it and to add a fabulous bit of 30s flamboyant flare to the beret.

The Butterfly Balcony: Knit It - Sunday Pictorial Beret from A Stitch In Time Vol.2

Well, I knitted the bows up; one in blue and one in purple and attached them to the beret but they looked a bit ridiculous. They were so floppy that they just hung limply at the back and didn't really look flamboyant at all! I learnt later from a conversation with Mim, that the reason they didn't work was that the yarn was too soft and didn't have enough structure to be able to hold its shape, she suggested getting some fine florists wire and work that in as I knit them, which I thought was a great idea, but I just never got around to actually doing it. So this weekend I called it quits on these bows and decided to move on. After dragging the beret back out of my UFO pile, I redid the back seam as the stripes were not matching up to my liking (my standards have obviously improved since 2012) and tidied away the loose ends before I giving it a quick wash and block over a dining plate which I left in the sunshine to dry.

The Butterfly Balcony: Knit It - Sunday Pictorial Beret from A Stitch In Time Vol.2

So now my beret is complete and I can actually wear it, I really like it! Its a floppy beret with a loose style which means you can position it on your head depending on your mood or era you are trying to recreate. I actually really like how the stripes make it a little more interesting and are totally in keeping with its original 30s style which means it should look great with my dark blue original 40s fit and flare coat! I did buy a little more of this yarn in both colours before it became discontinued so I am toying with the idea of making up some matching stripy gloves, though I'm not convinced I'll have enough yarn to do the job so I might have to play a bit of knitting roulette and see if I win!
Wendy x

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Wendy's Week - Yarn & UFO's

Hello you lovely lot I hope you are having an amazing week!
This is what I've been keeping out of trouble with...

~ Yarn & UFO's ~
- 9th - 15th May -
Reading A Woman in Berlin // Yummy yarny goodness // Beau checking his garden for intruders //
A gift of pretty flowers // Lots of new knitting patterns // Last Knitting UFO completed

- Finished a reading book! It may have taken me a few months, but I have finally finished reading 'A Woman in Berlin'. I am so glad to have finished it, as it was a fascinating, if utterly traumatic read. How these women were able to cope with essentially being the spoils of war astounds me. I read slowly, so it's not the books fault it took me this long, but perhaps it was the time I took or just the amount of horrendous events, but the month or so time frame that the book covers felt more like years than weeks. If you are interested in WWII history then I would say it is a must read!

- Finished my very last knitting UFO! My Sunday Pictorial Beret is complete, it only needed re-sewing together and for me to weave away the loose ends, so the length of time it has taken me to finish this is shocking, but it's now done and photographed, so there will be more about it in my next post!

Drops Delight Yarn: 06 Pink/Purple, 09 Turquoise/Purple & 15 turquoise/burgundy/beige

- Bought some very yummy sock yarn! With my last UFO now finally a FO (finished object) it was time to start something new, without any guilt! I have been wanting to have a go at socks for years but couldn't quite muster the enthusiasm to actually start anything, well that all changed this week when I found this gorgeous Drops Delight yarn on Love Knitting's website and the fact that it was on sale was even more tempting so along with some yarn for my Home Fire's Fair Isle (I am still working on it, it's just taking me longer than I thought to work out re-sizing...the blighter!) I bought a few balls and can honestly say the pictures on the site don't quite do it justice, it;s much more delightful in the fluff! I am really looking forward to start knitting with it, I am thinking of trying Hermione's Every Day Sock Pattern by Erica Lueder, which is free on Ravelry, as it looks easy enough for a beginners pattern, has a little detail to make it interesting to knit and is still simple enough to show of the pretty yarn, add in the fact I love Harry Potter and well, my decision is pretty much made!

- Operation Victory Garden is back on track! I spent the weekend, weeding and digging on my allotment to get everything back on track for planting up my onions and potatoes this coming weekend. I have decided to keep it a little more simple this year, so have held back on the seed planting as I don't want to overwhelm myself as I have in other years. So this weekend I finally planted up some runner beans and once I find where I put my seeds, I'll also pop in some marrows too, slowly but surely I am making progress!

- I was gifted some wonderful vintage knitting patterns to share with you all! last week I got an email out of the blue from the lovely Suzanne who runs the fabulous vintage clothing store Authentic Glam on eBay, she wanted to know if I would like to rehome some vintage knitting patterns for her, as she feared the charity shop may not give them the respect they deserve and of course I said, yes please! The patterns arrived this week and blimey they are fabulous, there are loads of them, the above is just the very tip, of the tip of the Iceberg! As a thank you to Suzanne, I'll be gradually turning them in to pdf's and sharing them over on The Vintage Pattern Files over the next few months (actually it might be years there is that many) so that you all can share in her utter generosity too!

~ Me-Made May 2016 Week 2 ~

Ok, on to this weeks MMM2016! Week Two I managed to wear only two garments. On Sunday I wore my still not blogged about 1950's Simplicity 1166 skirt which I panic stitched before my holiday about this time last year and on Friday for a lovely sunny pub lunch with my mate Alan I wore my Anderson Blouse (though I forgot to get a photo) which is fast becoming my favourite thing to wear! I'm not quite hitting my three garment quota this week but I am not disappointed, as I am still enjoying the challenge, I am also rapidly realising I don't have as much practical clothing as I'd thought so thats something to remedy with any future projects!

Wendy x

Friday, 13 May 2016

Wendy's Week - Planes & Trains

Hello I hope you are having another great week and are looking forward to the weekend!
This is what I got up to last week...

~ Planes & Trains ~
 - 2nd - 8th May -
The Butterfly Balcony: Wendy's Week - Planes & Trains Leaving Schiphol Airport // Crazy cat lady  // May the 4th be with you // Beginning Me Made May 2016 // Sunbathing knitwear //Bowie pin a pressy from my brother!
Leaving Schiphol Airport // Crazy cat lady  // May the 4th be with you //
Beginning Me Made May 2016 // Sunbathing knitwear //Bowie pin a pressy from my brother!

- Flew back to Liverpool and almost enjoyed this flight! The weather leaving Amsterdam was gorgeous, clear blue skies as far as they eye could see, the weather over England was not so nice, our decent into Liverpool was...turbulent, I didn't enjoy it one bit, but as my brother kept reminding me as my sweaty palms were clutching the arm rests, it was caused by the thick layer of cloud we were passing through and nothing to be scared of, it was bad but not anywhere near as scary as I had feared so thats something I guess! One thing I did enjoy was that at both Schiphol and Liverpool you get to enter and exit the plane via steps at the front and rear, rather than the jetty tunnel thingy. Now I know to most its probably more like an inconvenience, but I really liked stepping off the plane this way, it felt like being a celebrity back in the day alighting to meet their adoring fans from their glamorous jet, my jet was just a bit more easy thats all!

- I received a mystery parcel in the mail this week Once I opened it I found a fabulous Aladdin Sane pin badge from Thread Famous, kindly ordered by my brother for me as he knew I really wanted one. He had his own which is how I found out about them but when I went to buy one I they had all sold out, so I was very surprised to find one in the post! I shall be attaching it with all my other pin badges to my knitting bag, I know rock and roll, right!

The Butterfly Balcony: Wendy's Week - Planes & Trains  - Cats, cats, cats

- Cats, cats, cats! While still in Liverpool me and mum spotted a cat asleep on a car parked in a driveway as we looked down the drive we could see other cars each had a cat sleeping soundly on its roof, I though this was really funny so grabbed my phone to take a snap when, the first cat got up started mewing at us for attention, within seconds there were at least ten cats and kittens appearing from every corner of the garden jumping up on the car for a bit of attention, it was lovely as they were very friendly but a bit mental, I thought I was a crazy cat lady but this was something else! It does make me a sad though as however well cared for these cats clearly were, it was evident that this cat clan was a result of them not be spayed/neutered, which is something I feel quite strongly ought to be done, there are so, so, so many unwanted kitties sitting in shelters, not neutering just means increasing those numbers and thats so sad.

- May the 4th Be With you! I travelled back to London last Wednesday and as it was the 4th of May I obviously had to wear my favourite Star War T-shirt.  So imagine my surprise I was when I noticed while boarding the train back to London that the carriage was wishing us a 'Happy Star Wars Day'! It didn't stop there, the train guard was clearly a huge Star Wars fan too as he had a tailor made announcement each time we left a station, and he even hosted a competition on board to win a toy lightsaber, I didn't join in as I couldn't answer the last question and didn't want to cheat by googling it ("which tube station was used in for filming the new Rouge One movie?", I had no idea of the answer, but go watch the trailer its epic!), but it was a lovely touch to the day and the journey and hats off to him for being proud enough to share his love with his somewhat bemused passengers!

The Butterfly Balcony: Wendy's Week - Planes & Trains  - Potting up some sprouting potatoes

- Potted up some potatoes. Before I went away I forgot to do a check on the vegetable rack to see if anything was growing legs, so when I got back I found the potatoes I had stored had not just grown legs they were practically walking out of the rack! Rather than just chuck them away in the compost bin I decided to pop them into some buckets and let them do what they clearly want to do and thats grow. I used to do this all the time when I had my little balcony, but once I got my allotment I no longer had the need. I wouldn't recommend planting your allotment with supermarket sprouters as the seed has not been properly tested so there is the small chance they could spread disease to other peoples crops, however sticking then in a pot in your garden its fine and in a few months with me topping up the compost every time they sprot above it they should certainly yield enough for a dinner or three!

- I gave my knitted babies a bath! On Sunday it was such a gorgeous hot and sunny day I knew I needed to make the most of it and give some of my handmade knits a bath. My Victory Jumper and Miette cardigan are both knitted in acrylic blended wool so could most likely be machine washed, thought after the hours I have spent knitting I would rather treat them to some TLC even if it does mean they get washed a little less often. The weather was so warm that they were dry within a couple of hours and are now ready and waiting to be worn again very soon!

~ Me Made May Week 1 ~
The Butterfly Balcony: Wendy's Week - Planes & Trains  - Me Made May 2016 Victory Jumper & Box Pleat Skirt // Butterick 5748 and my handmade Hair Bow
Victory Jumper & Box Pleat Skirt // Butterick 5748 and my handmade Hair Bow

My pledge is to wear 3 garments a week for May, and I managed 4 this week! On Monday whilst still up in Liverpool I wore my Victory Jumper and newly finished Sew Over It Box pleat skirt, which go together really well! On Sunday while mowing the lawn and doing the chores I wore my Butterick 5748 dress and my handmade hair bow, (I sometimes like to be overdressed while gardening!)  I have never shown the dress on here before not sure why as made it years ago now and do really I love it as its so easy to wear and it goes really well with the cardigan my mum gave to me, though I do really wish I had lined up the center stripe on the bodice with the one the skirt as it now really bugs me! Please excuse the grumpy face it was actually far too warm for a woollen dress and I was overwhelmed!
Wendy x