Thursday, 30 January 2014

Vintage Dolly Knitting Pattern

One of the first dolls I remember having was a Tiny Tears, and one of the best thing about Tiny Tears, apart from her doing a wee when you gave her a bottle, was that you could dress her up. I had this dress in several different colours, and knitted pants too! (can you imagine how itchy they would be?!)
But don't worry if you don't have a Tiny Tears, this outfit is to fit any doll that's about 14 inches high with an 11 1/2 inch chest. Or thereabouts.

150g double knitting yarn (this is a guess, as the pattern simply says "3 balls" without saying how large the balls are! I reckon it would probably take less than 100g but admittedly I haven't made this pattern for ages)
2 x 4mm (no.8) and 2 x 3 1/4mm (no.10) knitting needles
4mm crochet hook
3 buttons
length of ribbon
K - Knit; P - Purl; sts - stitches; st,st. - stocking stitch; yfwd - yarn forward; sl.1 - slip one; tog - together;  dec - decrease; inc - increase; psso - pass slip stitch over; - garter stitch; rept - repeat; beg - beginning; alt - alternate; dc - double crochet; ch - chain; cm - centimetre; ins - inches.
12sts to 5cm (2ins) on 4mm (no.8) needles.
Using 3 1/4mm (no.10) needles, cast on 69 sts. work 4 rows in
Change to 4mm (no.8) needles and pattern
1st Row: K1, *yfwd, sl.1, K2tog, psso, yfwd, K5, rept from * to last 4 sts, yfwd, sl.1, K2tog, psso, yfwd, K1.
2nd and Alt rows: Purl.
3rd Row: As 1st Row.
5th Row: K4, * yfwd, sl.1, K1, psso, K1, K2tog, yfwd, K3, rept from * to last st, K1.
7th Row: K1, *yfwd, sl.1, K2tog, psso, yfwd, K1, rept from * to end.
8th Row: Purl
These 8 rows form the pattern.
Continue in pattern until the 7th row of the 5th pattern has been worked.
Dec. row: * (P2tog) 4 times, P3tog (P2tog) 5 times, P3 tog, rept from * to last 21 sts, (P2tog) 4 times, P3tog, (P2tog) 5 times. (32) sts.
Change to 3 1/4mm (no.10) needles.
Work 2 rows
Next Row: * K1, yfwd, K2tog, K1, rept from * to end.
Work 2 rows
Change to 4mm (no.8) needles. Purl 1 row.
Shape Armhole and Divide for Back
Cast off, K13 (including st on needle) turn.
Purl 1 row.
Continue in, dec 1 st at armhole edge on following 2 rows. (11sts)
Continue without further dec. until armhole measures 6cm (2 1/2 ins) finishing on a purl row.
Cast off.
Rejoin yarn to remaining sts. Work to correspond with other side reversing all shapings.
Work exactly as instructions for Back to shape armholes.
Shape Armholes
Continue in Cast off 3 sts at beg of next 2 rows. Dec 1 st at each end of the needle on the next 2 rows (22sts). Continue without further dec until work measures 5 rows less than Back to Shoulder finishing on a right side row.
Shape Neck
P7, cast off 8, P7.
Next Row: K to last 2 sts, K2tog
Next Row: Purl
Rept last 2 rows once more. Cast off remaining sts.
Rejoin yarn at neck edge to remaining sts and work to correspond with other side reversing all shapings.
Sleeves (Both Alike)
Using 3 1/4 (no 10) needles, cast on 20 sts. Knit 2 rows.
Next Row: *K1, inc in next st, rept from * to last 2 sts, K2 (29 sts)
Change to 4mm (no 8) needles. Work 8 rows in pattern as given for Skirt of Dress.
Shape Top
Keeping pattern correct, cast off 2 sts at beg of next 2 rows.
Dec 1 st at each end of the needle on the next 6 rows.
Cast off.
To Make Up
Join shoulder, side and sleeve seams. Sew in sleeves.
Using 3 1/4 (no 10) needles and with right side facing, K6 sts from left back neck, pick up and K5 sts down side of neck, 8 sts across front neck, pick up and K5 sts up side of neck and K6 sts from right back neck.
Work 3 rows in Cast off.
Work 1 row of dc round back opening, working 3 small loops for buttonholes.
Sew on buttons to correspond with buttonholes.
Thread ribbon through holes at waist.
I hope you have fun making this dress for your little girl's dollies. If you would like to make the whole outfit, please contact me with your email address and I will happily send you a pdf of the instructions.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Poole ~ Birthplace of a Blogger

Yesterday I went back to the town of my birth ~ Poole.

Although I only lived there for a few years we often went back to visit relatives, and I have fond memories of feeding Canada geese and riding the mini train in Poole park. But it is the pottery that is dearest to me. Although the manufacture of Poole Pottery has now moved to Staffordshire there is still a fabulous shop on the quay, and a small studio where new design work and one off pieces are created.

The twintone style is one of Poole's most famous dinnerware ranges. The creamy retro colour palette and satin-soft glaze make it really special.

These Talullah vases are very typical of Poole's style. They are made using a technique called Living Glaze, where different glazes are used which react with each other creating a unique effect on each piece. Though the lava tones of the Delphis range is more well known, I love this colour combination! 
These vases really caught my eye, I don't know how I managed to walk away without one of these barnacle-crusted lovelies. Ah well, it gives me a good excuse to go back, right?

And these brown plates really got my attention, as I had the blue version as a child!

And here it is, along with some of other pieces from my Poole collection. The dolphins and squirrels are inspired by local wildlife ~ Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour is one of the very few places where native red squirrels still thrive in the UK.

So there you go, a little bit of love for the place of my birth. I hope you enjoyed it!

Friday, 24 January 2014

Let me tell you a secret

My yarn stash is waaaaay to big. Frankly, it's getting ridiculous. I have a big ali baba style laundry basket full of odds and bobs, as well as a large chest of drawers stuffed with packs of yarn, and bag upon bag of half-finished projects and experiments. And yet I still can't walk away from a bargain!
Today I'm going to share with you a super cheap way of buying yarn that I have used several times in the past ~ scarves on sale. Our local Primark often sells off fabulously chunky scarves for only a pound or two at the end of the season, and some of these things are huge! Today I bought two relatively soft chunky cowls, reduced from £5 each to £2.
I love variegated yarns, and was especially drawn by the short splashes of colour in this one. All you have to do is sit down with a cup of tea (and maybe a little box of chocs, why not!) and unpick the scarf, winding it into balls as you go. I was surprised to see this unwind into one variegated and one cream ball, but it's still perfect for what I have planned.
The cowls I bought yielded 180 grammes of yarn each, but Primark was selling off some lovely cobalt blue cowls, twice the size of these, for only £1 each! You could never buy such lovely soft yarn in the shops for that price.
So next time you're browsing the sales, have a think about what you could remake from some of the bargains.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Pop Art Design

Yesterday I enjoyed my first exhibition of the year, and on my birthday too! The Barbican Centre, a large sprawling collection of arts venues (which I found a little confusing to navigate!) was holding a Pop Art Design exhibition.

Being about the beginnings of Pop Art, and how the movement was adopted and incorporated into Design, there were of course plenty of works by Roy Lichtenstein, Eduardo Paolozzi, Peter Blake, and Charles and Ray Eames.
There were several Warhol pieces. Hardly surprising, as the guy seemed to churn out work at a seemingly industrial rate, hence the name The Factory, I guess! I'm not a big fan of his stuff, but it certainly defines the movement.

Close Cover Before Striking
Studio 65 was well represented too, this sofa was one of my faves:


I liked Jann Haworth's pieces. Her calico Cowboy freaks me out a li'l bit, it's just a tad too Westworld for me! But this fabric work was a real feast for the eyes, I even set the alarms off leaning across to check out the needlework on the comic book ~ oops!

Donuts, Coffee Cups & Comics
These paper earring kits were pretty cool, they definitely appealed to the crafter in me and I loved the packaging.

And of course, as with every exhibition I go to, I discovered a new artist whose work turned out to be my highlight of the show. This time around it seemed that every time I was drawn towards a particular work the name attached to it was the same . . . Alexander Girard.
His stunning use of colour, adorable folksy images, and gorgeous typefaces, had me gasping with joy.  
Although he is best known for his textile work, he was also an architect, as well as a designer of furniture and interiors. I can tell I am going to be looking for affordable versions of his work, and I definitely want to see if I can get hold of some of his fonts.
The exhibition finishes on 9th February so if you're interested you'll need to go soon. It is also part of the 2for1 entry deal available with your rail ticket, so it makes for a pretty good value day out.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Planning ahead?!

I've been thinking about what kind of things I want to be blogging about in the coming year. (get me, thinking ahead and all!) It's still going to be the regular mix of recipes, crafts, and cultural outings, but it occurred to me t'other day that some of you may not know anything much about me. I have no idea if anyone really wants to know, but I'm feeling positive today so I'm going to assume that you do ;)
So as well as the usual, I decided to blog a little about who I am, where I come from, and where on earth I think I'm going (just kidding on that last one ~ as if I have a clue!) I'm going to drop in some posts about where I was born, where I grew up, and where I live now, as well as favourite recipes and patterns from my childhood.

In the meantime, I'm knitting. And this lovely lemony piece is destined to be one of the most gloriously kitsch things I have ever created.

I'm planning on adding some hand knitted items to my Etsy shop this year. Some, like the picture above, are going to be a while in the making, but I hope to list some super snuggly hand knitted cushions in the next couple of days. As usual, it's getting the photos that holds me up. sigh. Then over the next couple of months I hope to add some crocheted cushions and restock my owl cuddle cushions too. And there are a couple of other new little bits and bobs which are still in the experimental stage at the moment.

If there's anything you'd like me to blog about, please do let me know in the comments, or send me a message (Kathy, Karen, I haven't forgotten your requests, I swear I'm getting a couple of tutorials together especially for you guys!)

Monday, 6 January 2014

Strawberry Clouds

Ever since Christmas we've had storm after storm here in the UK ~ gales and rain and floods. I suppose we are luckier than our neighbours across the pond, with their record-breaking low temperatures and snowstorms. While I adore storms and wintery weather I realise that most people yearn for summer sunshine, so just for you I've crammed summer into a cake, so you can all have a little sunshine no matter how gloomy the day may be outside.

These cakes are so light and fluffy, and such a delicately creamy shade of pink ~ it's like taking a bite of a strawberry cloud, hence the name!

Strawberry Cloud Cupcakes

For the cake:

200g self raising flour
225g sugar
50g strawberry nesquik powder
1/2 tsp salt
100g margarine
2 eggs
150ml milk
few drops vanilla essence
few drops pink or red food colouring (optional)

For the icing:

75g cream cheese
25g butter
250g icing sugar
25g strawberry nesquik powder
Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F / Gas 4
Sieve the flour and mix together with the sugar, salt and nesquik. Rub in the margarine. Beat the eggs and milk together with vanilla essence and food colouring (if using). Stir the wet mixture into the dry and beat well until light and creamy.  Fill cupcake cases two thirds full and bake for approx. 25 mins until just golden brown. While they cool on a rack, make the icing.
Beat together the cream cheese and butter until well blended and creamy, then beat in the nesquik. Add the icing sugar about a third at a time and beat until thoroughly mixed. Ice your cakes.
This recipe will make approx. 12 large cupcakes, or 24 fairy cakes, or 6 large and 12 small! The icing should generously coat 12 large cupcakes, and was enough to top 6 large and 12 small with a little leftover for the cook ;)

Why not whip yourself up a batch, crank up the heating, and remind yourself what summer was like.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

A Happy New Year

Happy New Year!

I hope you've all had a lovely break, happy holidays, and a fabulously festive time with family and friends. I know I have!

Last year had plenty of ups and downs, a lot of challenges that I could have done without, but luckily there were enough smiles to keep me going, and thanks to my Smiles Jar I can relive them now.

This is the first year I have done one of these Jars of Joy, or Memory Jars, but it certainly won't be the last. I used mine to focus on the little things that would otherwise be forgotten. For example, this one from September read:
"Corban was off sick because his braces hurt so badly. But for some reason every time he left the lounge he scuttled back and forth past the door doing a crab impression."

I had completely forgotten that, now I remember how much I laughed as if it happened yesterday.

If you want to make your own Jar of Joy you can find a link to my tutorial here, but basically you just pretty up a good-sized jar ~ it's an incredibly simple and rewarding thing to do.

And now, I'm off to create my second entry to this year's jar. I'm gonna pour myself a snowball, crack open another box of Christmas chocs, and watch the funniest film of 2013.