Thursday, 14 July 2016

Wendy's Week - An Island Escape

Hello you lovely lot, I hope you have been having a wonderful July so far!

Last week I decided to take myself off to the Isle of Wight for a few days, to spend some quality time with my parents and for a little bit of Island tranquillity in the summer...err...sunshine? Well at least I was hoping so!

~ An Island Escape ~
The Butterfly Balcony: Mum and me at I.O.W Railway // Freshwater Bay // New Knitting Appledurcombe House //  Off to see a show // Clematis in my folks garden
Mum and me at I.O.W Railway // Freshwater Bay // New Knitting
Appledurcombe House //  Off to see a show // Clematis in my folks garden
I decided to head down to Portsmouth bright and early on Friday morning, as I'd been lucky enough to snag a super cheap train ticket from Waterloo to Portsmouth with Megabus (a site really worth checking out if you can be a little flexible with your travel times and are able to book in advance). So after a couple of early morning buses to get me to Waterloo, a train and then a ferry I arrived at Ryde pier head more than ready for a few days holiday.

The Butterfly Balcony: Fish and chips at freshwater bay
View Across the Bay
The first stop on my trip was to Freshwater for a bit of charity shopping at the Wessex Cancer Trust Shop and to grab some fish and chips for lunch. I managed to get a relatively new copy of Winifred Holtby's South Riding (I blogged about the BBC adaptation here), for a whole 75p and some little black buttons for £1, which should hopefully work well with the next sewing project I have planned, so left Freshwater rather happy with my little haul. Dad drove us over to Freshwater bay, to one of my favourite viewing points on the island, where we sat to eat our lunch and the sun started to shine for what felt like the first time this year. It was bliss!

The Butterfly Balcony: Dad as a station guard // Wartime Cheese Sarnies // Mum looking very chic in my beret, it really suited her!// Stop Look & Listen // taking a ride on a train // US Army camp
Dad as a station guard // Wartime Cheese Sarnies // Mum looking very chic in my beret, it really suited her!//
Stop Look & Listen // taking a ride on a train // US Army camp
It was the Round the Island Yacht race on Saturday but we decided to forgo an early morning start for a good vantage point to watch the boats, in favour of popping along to the Isle of Wight Steam Railway for the first day of their annual 1940s weekend.

The Butterfly Balcony: Isle of wight Steam Railway 1940s weekend 2016
The Butterfly Balcony: Isle of wight Steam Railway 1940s weekend 2016

If I am honest this was actually the main reason for my trip, it's something I have managed to attend every year for the last few years and now that I am a member of the railway's club it means that I get three free passes in to the station a year, one of which I always save for this weekend. I've actually been visiting this railway since I was a tot and so it has a special place in my heart; as a child I used to pretend as we rattled along, with the wonderful smell of smoke and the smuts blowing in my face as I stuck my head out of the window, that I was back in the 40s or even that I was one of the Railway Children, so as you might imagine, the child in me is very happy that I get to pretend for real as a grown up, even if it is just for one day!

The Butterfly Balcony: Isle of wight Steam Railway 1940s weekend 2016 The Butterfly Balcony: Isle of wight Steam Railway 1940s weekend 2016

This year I wore my vintage style tea dress, which I bought many years ago from ASOS and thankfully even with all the stress eating I have been doing lately it still fit! The beret was a last minute change; it was a bit windy I didn't want to spend the day fighting with my hat so swapped it for the beret. Annoyingly I forgot to pack my newly finished Sunday Pictorial beret which was actually knitted to go with my fab late forties coat, which would have topped of all the blue and purple in my outfit perfectly! Mums dress is a lovely floral one I found on one of my favourite and much used Etsy stores, Secondhand Rose Worcester, it's a lovely 80s cotton dress which really does look perfectly 40s too and as she loves it,that means it's a win all round! My dad wore the Stitchcraft Fair Isle Pullover I knitted for him many Christmases ago, he even had two ladies compliment him on it, which I think he was rather chuffed about!

The Butterfly Balcony: Isle of wight Steam Railway 1940s weekend 2016
The Butterfly Balcony: Isle of wight Steam Railway 1940s weekend 2016

This year there were many more exhibits than at past events, plus lots more of the visitors had dressed up in 40s style clothes this year, which is great as it really adds to the atmosphere and makes the day a lot more enjoyable! There was also many more vintage clothing stalls this year, which me and mum had a good old rummage through, we found the prices to be really reasonable. I was quite restrained and so only bought a few pairs of vintage clip on earrings, which were real bargains from one of the charity stalls. We also bought some rag rug supplies from the lovely ladies at The Pig & Lion so that we can try our hands at making a 40s style rug with all the left over scraps of fabric we have accumulated over the years, which should be fun!

The Butterfly Balcony: Charity shop treat and a gift from mum // my now undone shawl // I'll Be Seeing You at the Winter Gardens // Earrings from the 1940's event
Charity shop treat and a gift from mum // my now undone shawl //
I'll Be Seeing You at the Winter Gardens // Earrings from the 1940's event
On Sunday after a trip into Shanklin for a little lunch and a wander around Rylstone Gardens, we headed back to Ventnor to take in a show. The local theatre group were hosting a 1940s musical called 'I'll Be Seeing You' which was being performed in the very appropriate 30s built Winter Gardens. Mum thought it would be a nice way to end our 40s weekend and so treated us to some tickets. The atmosphere in the theatre was great and the show was fabulous. The story was really rather lovely and focused on a fictional family living in Ventnor during the war, I even got a bit teary in places and the ton of songs they filled the show with were all classics from the 40s and 50s, which were beautifully sung by the amazing cast, it really made the perfect afternoon treat!

The Butterfly Balcony: Shawl Knitting
A change of Plan
Monday was grey and cloudy, which meant plenty of time for knitting. OK, so this is where need to confess to something, something I have a feeling I may live to regret. I took along my shawl project (see it in the last collage) which I have been slowly working on over the last few weeks. As I have been working away on it I have been becoming less and less enamoured with it, not the pattern, that's fabulously fun and very easy to knit, it was the pink and purple stripes, they were reminding me a little too much of a stick of rock and so I decided to rip it all back; I just couldn't see myself ever wearing it! I did cast on another though. Mum had two 100g balls of lovely navy DK glitter wool which she couldn't think of a use for and passed on to me, so I used this to cast on a new version and with more time and less distraction meant I rattled through knitting and even managed to cast it off just minutes before I had to leave to catch my ferry home! Mum was rather enamoured with it so I gave it to her as a gift and as I still have another ball I'll cast on a matching one for me!

The Butterfly Balcony: Isle of Wight Wroxall Village

Before I left for my ferry on Tuesday morning I did manage to fit in another little walk 'around the block' as my parents call it, which its actually much nicer than it sounds, as once you get to the bottom of their road it's all hilly valleys and lanes. Also you get to walk past my favourite place on the island Appuldurcombe House, (pronounced Apple-der-combe, we were reliably told by a local many years ago) an 18th century ruin, now maintained by English Heritage, which is set back in to a small secluded wooded area with fabulous views across Wroxall village and the hills beyond.

The Butterfly Balcony: Isle of Wight Appuldurcombe House
Appuldurcombe House

It is so beautiful and sad, that I fell in love with it the first time we visited when I was a child and always hoped that one day I might live near it. I am also hoping that one day, weather permitting, I'll be able to pop up there with a picnic and a Jane Austin novel and sit in the derelict tranquillity of the grounds to pass a sunny afternoon Oh, and just between you and me, if I ever did get married I'd dearly love it to be held here as it looks like the perfect place for an elegant party!

The Butterfly Balcony: Beau looking suspiciously at me
"Who are you...wheres my dinner"
After a long journey home I was expecting a lovely warm welcome from the little fury one, he usually runs in and jumps on my lap for a few minutes attention, but the best I got this time was this sceptical peering from around the sofa before he ran off to find his dinner, ha ha, he is a fickle little beast!

Wendy x

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!

It's 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've been a little 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 it's pointless to worry about things you have no control over and so I am diving head first in to another Wendy's Week - it's 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 now at last I have a picture of me and the fury one in which he almost looks pleased to be there - he's 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 it's 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 it's all glued together, I've just got the best bit left to do and that's painting and sticking on the decals. Once painted I'll 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 different and totally absorbing to work on when your brain is firing off with a million different worries, it has had an almost meditative feel to it as I find it so absorbing it is difficult to think of anything but simply painting, oh, and not getting paint everywhere, those pesky mini pots of paint are a devil to get open!

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

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

- Started a new knitting project & an 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 wanted to dedicate two balls of the four I had bought, to knitting up a shawl. It's not something that I have ever fancied doing before, but after finishing my socks I wanted to keep knitting but needed something very simple and something I could show off this pretty yarn a little better, 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 by listening to this months audiobook, The Girl On The Train which as been quite a gripping listen. It is totally not something I would ordinarily choose as I tend to read more vintage crime and historical stuff but it has actually been a welcome change, plus I enjoyed it so much 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. It is a small amount but with the weather being honestly bonkers (England seems to be going through monsoon season) over the last few weeks it has made it difficult to get as much digging done. I really need to get cracking as I have sweetcorn, marrows, pumpkin and broccoli seedlings to plant up, hopeful this weekend we might fare a bit better with the weather and I'll get a chance to dig like there's no tomorrow!

~ Me-Made May 2016 Week 4 ~

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

It's 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 60s style curtain fabric which I bought from Abakhans in Liverpool at the tender age of 21 to make curtains for my bedroom (I was going through my 60s psychedelia phase, groovy!) I never got around to making the curtains, so it has sat in my stash for a very 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), both dresses are made from my tried and tested pattern from Sew U Home Stretch!

I failed miserably most weeks in hitting my three garment target and I think this was for two reasons. The first is, now that I cycle to work I find it easier to wear the same, mostly shop bought stuff most days, as getting fully changed at work in to a dress or something nicer is not so practical, meaning a lot 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 a bit 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 rather 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 told by lovely Joe from Josie-Mary, that ITV, in their infinite wisdom, have decided to not to commission 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 it's 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 lovely knitwear! Argh, it's so unfair - has teenage style flailing arm strop! So if you think Home Fires should be recommissioned, 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. I decided to start my trial with a book I'd spotted when at the airport a few weeks back and I though it looked interesting, Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave. Set during the early part of the second world war the story 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 it this week and I would totally recommend giving it a read, or even a listen!

- Knitting & more knitting.  I discovered this week that knitting is the perfect accompaniment to listening to audiobooks and this is partly why I feel all I have really done this week is knit! I've been working away steadily 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. It is knitting up quite well, the yarn is a little fluffy so it's quite easy to split stitches while knitting, but it is so pretty I'll have to forgive it. Plus I finally figured out how to do the magic loop on circular needles, which certainly took me a while, but 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! I am 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 for a few hours till it got too hot so it's almost three! First was my jersey Swallow print dress, which is made from a tried and tested pattern from Sew U Home Stretch, it's 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, which I made last year in my Odhams print fabric, I am hoping to get a lot 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. Oh, and looking through my wardrobe 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 as a quick project 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 has been 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 picked 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 it 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, it is knitted flat; on two needles rather than four, so it is wonderful for a bit of quick, mindless knitting with just a bit of row shaping every now and then, to create the wonderful spiralling centre crown!

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

If it's 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, 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! It's 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. Perhaps it was the time I took to read or just the amount of horrendous events, but the month or so time frame that the book covers felt more like years rather 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 is 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. 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 off the pretty yarn. Oh, and 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. Also 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 Me Made May 2016! Week Two I managed to wear only two garments. On Sunday I wore my still not blogged about 1950s 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). My Anderson blouse 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 that's something to remedy with any future projects!

Wendy x