Thursday, September 8, 2011

Handmade with Love

If you've ever made something by hand as a gift, and cursed over the tricky bits, wondering if it will even be appreciated or worn, then take heart from this:

As this beautiful little smock dress was originally made by my aunt for my older sister, over 30 years ago, and worn by her, then me, then my younger sister, by my reckoning M is the fourth one to wear it.

Not only has all that careful hand-smocking survived years of wearing, washing and subsequent storage, but it's now once again destined to be a often worn, much loved addition to a little girl's wardrobe

Both my children are very fortunate in having family members and friends who make them lovely things, just as I was. P starts at a school-based nursery later this month and I wanted him to have a school bag to mark the occasion. As my time was pressed but my mum said she was 'between projects' I asked her if she could make the Messenger Bag from Oliver + S 'Little Things to Sew' (sorry, tried to add a link here but it didn't work out).

She could and she did. The combination of Liesl Gibson's attention to detail with curves and binding and inner pockets, with mum's attention to detail in choosing a plain, hardwearing denim outer and combining it with a brightly patterned lining, and leaving off fastenings so it's easier for P to get into means that this is going to be another much loved, much used item.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Back from a break...and yet more colour

After all the late night knitting to get 'Make Do and Mend' finished and posted to deadline, a huge amount of washing so that for once we didn't go on holiday with bags full of damp clothes to be dried once we arrive and usual craziness of getting our little family on the road, we had a more-or-less blissful week in Lyme Regis with beloved parents/grandparents and my sister.

The sun shone (mostly), the views were like a children's story book, much sand was dug, much ice-cream eaten and a good time was had by all.

I did manage to find a fossil on Charmouth beach, a tiny ammonite which I packed somewhere safe that I now can't recall (no, I haven't got around to unpacking everything yet!) and as always found that profound sense of peace and happiness that comes from being on the shore. It never ceases to amaze me how nature puts together colours in a way that we can never really reproduce, like these beautifully smooth stones.

However, all those natural colours haven't completely won me over and my quest for colour continues. I know I should have brought back something local, but a shop called 'Siciliana' in Lyme Regis caught my eye- I wonder why?! The owner sources and imports ceramics from a number of family producers in Sicily and his shop is a mouthwatering feast of colour. This little jug and bowl are destined to be a toothbrush holder and soapdish in the colour-saturated bathroom I'm planning. We can't afford a complete re-do, so I'm thinking that the absence of cool, sophisticated newness is a good excuse for crazy, mismatched loveliness. Just add that project to the endless list...

Long journeys (including the trip back, all seven hours of it, in the cab of the transporter with our car on the back, said car having conked out on day 2, eek!) and leisurely evenings as our salt-crusted children slept off their days of running about on the sand meant that I really got cracking on some knitting. After all the itty-bitty work with DK the other week, it was lovely to get back to Artesano Aran and Manos Del Uraguay Wool Clasica, chunkier needles and quicker growth. I finished the vibrant blue/purple Artesano project and, despite patchy reception for recieving emails on my phone, recieved yet more exciting news about the design. Once again, watch this space. Big Queen Bess, the Manos project, is going really well too. Not only am I onto sleeves, but I've tried it on once or twice (and had to be helped out of it by willing, and laughing, volunteers so that I didn't drop all the stitches from the circular needle that was still in it) and I'm pleased with how it looks. Best of all, given my previous record, I actually think I've ordered enough wool to finish the project! I almost don't dare say it, but I think I'll be able to finish it without desperate shout outs on Ravelry for the last few metres to finish a sleeve. Wonders will never cease. Hopefully pics will follow soon.