Saturday, 29 December 2012

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

I'm writing this on Saturday 29 December, feeling very relaxed but sadly several pounds heavier.  And we are still eating our way through the turkey leftovers.  I hope you all had a lovely Christmas, we certainly did.  Far too much food and sweets, but very relaxing.  You know it's Christmas when you are still in your pyjamas at noon, eating Percy Pig sweets with a rose wine chaser, and reading your new dollshouse tome.

This is a wonderful history of the Christian Hacker toy factory in Nuremberg (1835-1927) written by Swantje Kohler with text in both English and German.  I ordered it direct from her website but it was a gift from DH and the in-laws as it is rather pricey.  But I think well worth it, 332 high quality pages with tons of illustrations including reprints of early catalogues, and many pictures of extant dollshouses and room boxes from collections juxtaposed next to their catalogue pictures.

I'm not generally a fan of antique dollshouses as I have a good eye for scale but every since my friend Anita sent me a Christmas card one year of this house (pictured on right hand page), I've wanted to find out more about the Hacker houses and perhaps one day build a duplicate. I love all the dormers, roof planes, the American-style porch and the Italianate windows.  They are just so charming, and so much more interesting than most of today's boring 'bookcase-style' dollshouses.

My Alice Starmore yarn turned up from my Ravelry de-stash purchase. This is Hebridean 2 Ply in colourway Erica, which is a bit darker than in this photo and a nice heathered berry colour which I quite like.

Another crafty christmas gift was this acrylic stand to hold my KnitPro needle tips. There will be another one coming from s-i-l when it is back in stock, so I will have one for my wooden tips and one for my metal tips.  Unfortunately both said tips are trapped in the cupboard behind the Christmas tree so temporarily inaccessible - I did not plan this very well.

One of my best presents was this homemade version of the June Tailor Pressing Board.  My f-i-l made it from this pattern and did a super job.  It's turned out really well and is going to be so useful for pressing. There's a video by Nancy on that link which shows all the different uses for each surface.

A few days before Christmas, I made two of these gingerbread houses using a clever set of cutters from Lakeland Limited (I've tried to link to their website but apparently the cutters are discontinued so must have been a seasonal item).  I also used their gingerbread recipe and it was so delicious!  We managed to eat most of our house by Boxing Day, and I took the other one down to the in-laws on Boxing Day as my contribution to the meal. I'm not very good at cake icing, but they were cute.  However, I'm not sure my British in-laws get the concept of a gingerbread house, they were rather reluctant to snap pieces off. I think they would have been happier to have separate small ginger cookies.

DH loved his Christmas socks (he had forgotten I'd knit them so they were a surprise) and m-i-l thought her knitted snowman was really cute.

So before Christmas, I made a list of my aspirations for the holiday.  Here is a progress update - and I still have three more days of holiday after today!

  • Seam up my Eyelet Lace jumper - I've knit the neckline so it's only the seaming left to do. DONE - see below
  • Block all the pieces for my Gingko Shawl and start sewing them together Blocked and seaming underway, see below.
  • Fix the errors in my Marina electronic chart and make a start on knitting my Marina pullover on the 950i knitting machine. Mostly fixed, and now on row 92, see below.
  • Sew a label onto my Vintage Lone Star quilt that I finished a few weeks ago. - DONE
  • Start the straight-line quilting on the Medieval Panels quilt - STARTED
  • Do some more piecing on the Lone Star kit I am sewing Pieced row 6 onto all eight star points
  • Do some more piecing on the Sarah's Stars Stack 'n Whack quilt. - No
  • Crack on with the Advent Calendar Scarf - I would like to get it finished.- up to Day 17
  • Do a trial block of my Haapsalu Shawl so far, and decide if I am knitting it or frogging it. - No
  • Work out a sleeve pattern for my Twice Doomed Tee and knit both sleeves - No
  • I've got quite a few kits for small dollshouse accessories - perhaps tackle some of them? - No
  • Start more knitting projects if I can finish some of the old ones! I've started knitting the Yarn Harlot's 'Pretty Thing' cowl in my ruby red Carezza angora blend.

I seamed together my Eyelet Lace jumper (a.k.a. 01 - Pull ajouré by Bergère de France) and finished it on Christmas Day.  DH pointed out that I could wear it to the in-laws on Boxing Day, so I did.  It has come out a bit loose but that's not a problem apart from the shoulders want to hang a little below my natural shoulder line.  Otherwise I'm pleased with it.  I had trouble finding what to wear underneath it, I settled on a black top for Boxing Day but I think I might try a sleeveless white blouse next time.  Although this is not a difficult knit as such, I found it hard work because you are juggling so many factors:  stripe pattern shading with two strands of mercerised cotton to transition the colours, the lace chart, and the increasing/decreasing.  I could never have done it without the ipad app Goodreader.

I blocked six units at a time of my Gingko Shawl over the days leading up to Christmas, pinning them onto outlines I traced onto paper and protected in plastic sleeves.  My units have come out a bit big which is typical for me as I am a loose knitter, so I expect my shawl will be larger as well.  Also my partial units don't want to block flat which might be a problem. I am finding the seaming together is fairly straightforward as I am ignoring the ridiculously complicated instructions in the pattern and just grafting them with a yarn needle.  I'm working on a flat surface to ensure the gathering in is done smoothly.  Once the shawl is finished, I will block it again to flatten it all out.

My Marina sleeveless pullover is at last underway (Alice Starmore design).  It has an amazing number of colours, and I have placed them in numerical order along my machine lid so that I can easily find the next colour.  There are two colours in each row, and one or the other or both changes on virtually every row.  So it is slow going as I have to keep threading and unthreading the 950i machine, but still a lot faster and more even than if I tried to hand knit.  I'm up to row 92 and in a few more rows (row 111) I can start decreasing for the armhole.  On the chart on the wall, I have written out the colours for every row.  I really hope this fits as the colour shading is going to be fabulous.

I finished quilting the Teacups Quilt on the frame, and have now loaded up the Red & White Stars quilt.

The back has a panel of fabric featuring fun coffee jugs.

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas, and I wish you all the best for a very happy new year in 2013.

1 comment:

Daisy said...

Oh wow, I saw the gingerbread house things in Lakeland and wondered how they'd turn out!

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