January is often the bleakest of months made worse by the weather and now a lockdown throughout the UK. To add to the bleakness my family sadly suffered bereavement at the beginning of the month and this post is dedicated to my Mum who passed away in her sleep after a short illness. I know she enjoyed reading my blog.

Mum also enjoyed life and as we near the end of January there is hope on the horizon as my snowdrops are beginning to push through the soil and I am reminded of the cycle of the months and the importance of making the most of every day.

I have been working on a few projects over this past month that both seem quite seasonal.

West Yorkshire Spinners knit along

The first has been a West Yorkshire Spinners knit along blanket to wrap up warm in during these dark cold nights. It actually started around November I think and finished just before Christmas but I have just started sewing the squares together.

If you are interested in trying this project head to https://www.wyspinners.com/kal/bo-peep-pure-dk-botanical-garden-kal

This image of the Bo Peep Pure DK Botanical Gardens knit along blanket is taken from the West Yorkshire Spinners Website

I have really enjoyed knitting this project for a number of reasons. Firstly, it meant I could support my local artisan knitting shop, Beaker Button https://www.beakerbutton.co.uk/ . Jen discounted the wool for a short period of time when the knit along came out and she kindly kept the colours aside until I was ready to use them.

Secondly, it has allowed me to practice some skills I am not so good at including strandtarsia and stranded colour work, grafting and knitting a border.

My stranded colour work and strandtarsia definitely improved as I worked through the projects and this is reflected in the straightness of the seams between the squares.

I chose to use grey and purple throughout the knit along with the view that this blanket will go into our bedroom so the colours will match. My husband also did not like the colours chosen in the project. In hindsight, I think I would have followed the colour scheme or at least chosen two colours that had more of a contrast to make the pattern more obvious.

Overall, however, I have really enjoyed knitting this and the video tutorials on the West Yorkshire Spinners site are really helpful. Of course, if you live near a wool shop, often the shop owner will help if you are a bit stuck. All the more important then to support your local shops in these difficult times. I would be lost without calling on Jen if I got a bit stuck as my knitting is far from advanced

A few pictures of the kint along as I progressed are below:

The Andie Anorak

The second big project is an anorak sew along from Rebecca Page. It is called the Andie Anorak and the .pdf pattern is available to purchase and download from here.https://rebecca-page.com/product/anorak-sewing-pattern/

Image taken from the Rebecca Page website

Once you have downloaded the pattern you can print it out yourself and tape the pieces together or pay for a printing service to print the images on to large paper. You will also receive daily emails with a link toyou tube tutorials to allow you to sew along and make the coat in 9 days.

I opted to pay for my pattern to be printed and used the Avid Seamstress https://www.theavidseamstress.co.uk/ . I have never done this before and was a little nervous about asking for the wrong thing. I needn’t have been – the lady I spoke with at The Avid Seamstress replied to my emails really quickly and was so helpful that any reservations were soon abated. The final printing exceeded my expectations and I would recommend this service to anyone.

The fabric I chose was a waterproof ripstop fabric form Empress Mills https://www.empressmills.co.uk/ for the outer and a soft brushed cotton floral fabric for the lining.

The sizes for the coat range from 0-3 months right up to 5xl (about a UK size 26) and has a number of options when you make it, for example, the length, optional hood and pockets, and buttons or snap fasteners.

It took me about 2 weeks to make but, if you had nothing else to do the tutorials could be followed easily each day … if all the pattern pieces were cut and prepared before hand.

I am not going to lie – this is not a sewing project for a beginner. There are some really tricky bits of sewing and consideration needs to be given to the type of fabric you are using. For my PUL fabric I used a Teflon sewing foot and a jersey ball point 80/12 needle. I also had problems with the PUL fabric and brushed cotton fabric I used for the lining slipping against each other.

There was only one bit I really could not sew and that was the collar. Try as I might my machine was not going to sew the inside of the collar down and I ended up slip stitching this. Apart from this one issues and being very nervous adding the snaps, with a few small errors that only I would know about the end result is something I am really proud of.

The hood still needs to be made but I am really proud the result!

Rebecca Page does do an excellent job of taking you through the steps in a very concise and logical way however, so with some knowledge of sewing, the videos are easy to follow. I would recommend this pattern and project for any sewers contemplating making themselves a new rain coat.

And finally …

My husband was due to take me on a trip of a lifetime to sit in row two at an a-ha concert in Norway last November. Due to the global pandemic this was cancelled and has been rescheduled to April this year. I suspect that this will be cancelled as well but just in case I made a banner to wave around when we get there … one day.

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