casting-on

When I was a girl, my grandmother taught me to knit. Foolishly, I didn’t practice, and forgot. When I first lived some weeks in England, three sisters, elders in my sweetheart’s family, were my teachers. They cannot remember ever not knowing how to knit, and grew up at a time when, if your hands were empty, your mother handed you some work. I’m quite envious of learning so young, seeing as I waited til adulthood to take up the habit. My children have started early! You may think I knit very peculiarly, if you’ve not seen English knitting. I’m quite fond of it, particularly the speed and economy of movement – but ignore how I knit, and pay attention to how I cast-on.

For a long time I used one particular method for casting-on (creating the stitches to begin to knit a piece), and then I encountered the stretchy method, and never looked back. This, the third part of the “Cabled Handwarmers” set of old school movies in The Knitting Series, shows exactly that. It’s animated, even (it’s 4 minutes, and has a sweet little melody too). Learn it well, for just about any project, especially to knit the cabled handwarmers and mittens in this series.

What do you think? Work along with the other movies in the “Cabled Handwarmers” set, at the old schoolhouse (in the lefthand column). It’s very quick to buy the pattern to make these at the shop, just download and print! Very useful last-minute gift for a friend who wants to knit-in-the-round. Happy casting-on!

short & sweet heather grey handwarmer kit

short & sweet heather grey handwarmer kit

quilted mats

Do you remember some patchwork quilted placemats I was making? I used the projects to experiment with patchwork and stitching various quilted patterns. Four of them were just right to fit round our table.

patchwork quilted placemat © elisa rathje 2012

I’m quite pleased with how they turned out. I quilted a diamond shape, a simple angle, overlapping circles, and squares. The patchwork on these quilted mats is quite vivid, often I prefer to turn them linen-side up. I made my own linen bias tape to finish them, amazing how that brings it all together.

patchwork quilted placemat © elisa rathje 2012

Oh, I do miss that bright little room in the old English cottage.

nightclothes

Before the cold weather sets in and returns us to dark, chilly mornings of tending the fire, I wanted to sew our children a warm nightdress each. I’ve had some beautifully cosy organic cotton for quite some time.

nightclothes © elisa rathje 2011

They’ve been requesting these for months, and planning their design with me, something old fashioned and very simple, long and comfortable. My tall child wants to embellish hers with embroidery and lace as well!

nightclothes © elisa rathje 2011

Now that my studio is mostly in order, I pulled the fabric out and set to cutting two patterns. I cut a variation of the Molly Peasant pattern that I’d made a summer dress with. It is a child’s version of my own peasant frock, this time using three-quarter sleeves and a much longer hem. I cut the little one’s nightgown particularly large with a plan to adjust the elastic a year or so on, to give her a bit more time to wear it. My tall girl isn’t growing quite so rapidly, though she is set to overtake me and it won’t be long before I can sew the same pattern for the both of us!

nightclothes © elisa rathje 2011

I’ve shuffled my antique machine toward the window a bit, I like the odd corner it makes with the ladder to the little reading room in the rafters, but I haven’t quite decided how to organise the space I’ve left. What a pleasure to sew again, here! It takes me such a long time to return, but I adore it once I’ve begun and then a hundred projects are added to my list. Making this dress is really very easy, I highly recommend it!

nightclothes © elisa rathje 2011

I’ve finished one little nightdress, to keep our small one warm as she recovers from a fever. She’s very fond of it and wants to wear it all the time. I’ll assemble the tall one’s nightclothes next, I wish I had enough fabric to make a third for myself! And I think a pair of felted slippers would be just the thing to keep them through the cold months ahead, if I can figure out how to make them.

bunting

Something about bunting is so joyful. I love garlands and pennants and flags. I spent some time gathering beautiful fabrics to make quilts and bunting for our children when they first had their own bedroom together. I sewed it in time for a birthday party, when we were living in London.

bunting-party © elisa rathje 2011

Just the thing for a little girl’s old fashioned tea party, with elderflower cordial, scones with jam devonshire cream, a sparkling raspberry jelly, and faerie cakes.
bunting © elisa rathje 2011
Gather lots of fabric, and a very long length of ribbon or bias tape. I cut a paper triangle the size and shape I wanted, folded the fabric in half, right sides together, then pinned the triangle with one edge along the fold. Keep in mind the pattern of the fabric and arrange how it will lie before you fold. Cut it out.
bunting © elisa rathje 2011
Jovial shapes and merry patterns! I sewed along the cut side, clipped the tip of the triangle a little, and turned it, making sure to gently poke that tip cleanly with a knitting needle. You can sew along the the folded side as well to give it definition, if you like, but I don’t see the difference unless I’m right up close.
bunting © elisa rathje 2011
Press them flat with lots of heat and steam. Such cheerful things, I think.
bunting © elisa rathje 2011
First decide on a pleasing arrangement of the flags. I like the fabrics to pick up on colours or patterns in their neighbours. Theme and variation. Pin them along some ribbon with a lengthwise fold, or some bias tape, so that the raw edge of the flag is tucked into the fold. I used a white sateen ribbon, to blend just a little into the girls’ white room, though I’ve also seen linen ribbon used to great effect. Best to measure this to keep things consistent, once you see what kind of distance looks best to you. I liked a slightly smaller width than the flags themselves. Sew along this ribbon, catching each flag as you close the fold. That’s it!
bunting © elisa rathje 2011

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p>The bunting looks awfully sweet in their little cottage gable room (so extraordinarily little, it isn’t so easy to get a picture of it!). Every time I find new fabric I’m tempted to reserve some for a few more flags.