Wednesday yarn-along no. 8

P1010527*Photo to come soon!*

I am away from home for work and, alas, didn’t bring my camera cable to allow me to upload a picture.

What I’m reading:

I’ve got 2 this week: Gideon Smith & the Mechanical Girl and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

Gideon Smith is a classic steampunk adventure book. I love a bit of steampunk, sci-fi and fantasy! This takes a lot of common tropes and puts them into the same book, with mixed success. I won’t give everything away, but I will say Bram Stoker is a character, penny dreadfuls play a significant role, and there are dirigibles & automatons. It does feel a bit over the top at times, to be honest, but it is also a good, absorbing read. Gideon Smith was a nice comforting read, and I would recommend it.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is an old favourite. It’s about a 12-year-old girl growing up in Brooklyn in 1912. Betty Smith published it in 1943, and it really hasn’t aged at all. The characters are well-rounded, and you really come to care about them. I last read it over 10 years ago, so I am looking forward to seeing how my perceptions of it change.

What I’m knitting

The lace/cable jumper is marching on! I’ve now finished the back, and cast on for the beginning of the front on the train yesterday. I am quite pleased with the back, so am excited about getting the front started. To be honest, it’s coming along a lot quicker than I anticipated, so I am hoping to finish it by the end of May (best not to be too ambitious!)

So what are you working on this week? Any big projects on the go?

Wednesday yarn-along no. 6


I’ve gotten a bit behind with this blog, but I’m determined to keep it up. It’s really helping me focus my mind a few evenings a week. Plus, in some strange way it’s keeping me motivated to go read other people’s blogs. Is that a terrible reason to keep doing this?

What I’m knitting: cable jumper

You guessed it, it’s the same one I’ve already written about. I’ve spent very little time knitting this past week; I found The Cuckoo’s Calling quite absorbing and read it a little obsessively. As a result, I had less yarn time. But what I have done so far is turning out reasonably well. I am enjoying it so far. It’s an 8-row pattern, so it’s not actually as complicated as I initially thought.

What I’m reading: Sew Your Own by John-Paul Flintoff

This is another random library find, this time in the 646s (where you’ll also find dressmaking books). I only started it yesterday. However, while I find the concept interesting, I am reading this with a bit of cynicism. I’m not overly impressed with the writing so far (it tries too hard to be amusing), but I am really looking forward to learning more about how Flintoff came to the conclusion that he should make all his own clothes. So far I’ve only read about his experience with ultra-tailored suits and New York sweatshops and it’s already convinced me to look at buying off-the-rack clothes differently.


I know I’ve been neglecting Pastry & Purls slightly, but I am finally getting started on my circle skirt, which means there’ll be a new sewing post soon!

Wednesday yarn-along no. 4


Work is still very busy, and R & I currently have 500+ items listed on eBay, so this week taking time to read/knit is both important and difficult. Luckily I have managed to do a little of both on the train. Yesterday I finished The Virtues of the Table, and I’m happy to say that I can recommend it. While the logic (from my non-trained perspective) isn’t infallible in a few of the chapters, overall it presents a balanced view of lots of the issues around food & eating – organic, GMO, solitary eating, balanced diets, weight loss, etc – by linking them to virtues Baggini feels people should exhibit – for example, justice, compassion, conviviality, amongst others. While Baggini draws his own conclusions, he generally presents arguments on both sides, with evidence, so you could theoretically draw your own. Plus, I love that it has both a footnotes/references section and a bibliography. Referencing for the win!

What I’m knitting: Lacy jumper by Alison Robson

I’ve had my eye on this pattern for well over a year. It’s in Knitting issue 96 (December 2011), which I found in a charity shop for 50p. I’m excited to finally be using it. The Rowan fine lace yarn I bought recently seemed perfect for it. However, the pattern uses 4-ply while my yarn is 2 ply, which means I’m having to swatch to make sure I still manage to get the right gauge/tension. The needles in the picture are 2.5 mm and are still too big. Using teeny tiny needles means this project will be a long-term one, and I will probably end up taking a break from it at some point. I still think it will be worth it, because I think this sweater is just stunning. As for using such a dramatically different yarn? Well, I think it’ll look nice, plus there was also a review of Rowan Fine Lace in the same magazine, so I think it’s meant to be. 😉

What I’m reading: Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett

This is my bedtime reading, because what better way to calm down at the end of the day than with a bit of humor? Pratchett’s one of my favourite authors, too, so I read pretty much any books by him.

What are you reading or knitting? Do you prefer long-term or short-term projects, or a bit of both like me?

Wednesday Yarn-along 18 Feb

This week’s entry is going to be quick and brief. R and I are selling a ton of stuff on eBay to raise money toward a house deposit, so the next couple of weeks are going to involve a lot of typing and addressing post. I’ll try to post over the weekend as usual, but Pastry & Purls will need to take a bit of a backseat while I focus on this.

Granta Books

Image taken from Granta Books website:

What I’m reading: The Virtues of the Table: How to Eat & Think, by Julian Baggini

Yes, this is a book about the philosophy of food, written by a philosoher. Man, that sounds pretentious! This book wasn’t a particularly deliberate choice – I spotted the spine in the library and was intrigued. When I looked at the cover, I realised that I’d seen Baggini give an introduction to a film in Bristol a few years ago. He was a good speaker, and it turns out he is also a good writer. I’m not very far into this book. However, I’m already impressed by the clarity of the writing and the way he has integrated research into it. I am really not a lover of philosophy generally speaking, so I also appreciate the way he firmly ties philosophical theory to practical application (in relation to food, of course). Fingers crossed it stays good all the way through.

What I’m knitting: —

I’m cheating by doing a yarn-along, I guess, because I’m actually between projects. I sewed up my hat today and am still deciding on my next project. There’s a lace jumper I’ve had my eye on for a few years now, and I think it might finally be time to attempt it.


Wednesday Yarn-along


This week’s reading and knitting are quite relaxed. Work’s pretty full-on at the moment, so I just want to work on quick projects and escape a bit with my books.

I’m reading: The Wind in the Willows

I don’t think I read The Wind in the Willows as I child. I suppose I may have, but I certainly don’t remember it. Shocking! I spotted it on the shelf at the local Oxfam bookshop where I volunteer & borrowed it to decide if I want to buy it (that’s one of the perks of  being a volunteer!). Days are getting longer, and this makes a nice read on the train in the dusky light. Rat & Mole have just met Mr Badger, and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next!

I’m knitting: a hat

A colleague gave me about 8 balls of gorgeous bulky Icelandic wool several months ago, but I hadn’t used any of it until now. Though I like the look of bulky yarn, I rarely use it. However, as I was in the mood for something quick, this seemed like the right time to get started. I chose to start with the red, and am going to make this herringbone hat. You can’t go wrong with a red hat, can you?

Don’t forget to visit Ginny’s page for more literary and fibrous joy. 🙂

Moving to the yarn-along


The astute among you will have noticed that I didn’t do an In-between Tuesday post yesterday. This was actually deliberate, as I can now officially announce it’s the shortest-lived blog feature ever! I hadn’t thought it through properly and found I really didn’t enjoy writing it. What I really wanted to do was write about knitting and reading. Happily, I’m not the only one. Ginny started the yarn-along on a Wednesday as a space to share what she (and others) are reading and knitting. Perfect! It can be really nice to do things as part of a community, so I thought I’d join in and abandon the In-between Tuesday. This week’s entry is still on a train. It’s been so chilly that I’ve been treating myself to a flask of tea on the train.

I’m reading: The Miniaturist, Jessie Burton

This was the hot book of last year. I happily spotted it on the shelf at the library and grabbed it before someone else could. While I enjoyed it, I am still not quite sure whether it lived up to the hype for me. I didn’t get really absorbed until about 1/3 of the way in. All in all, I’m glad I borrowed it rather than buying it, but I can still see myself rereading it. I would recommend it to you, as well, if you can find a copy.

I’m knitting: hearts Well, Valentine’s Day is coming up. These hearts aren’t actually for Valentine’s Day, though, they’re for a top-secret project which involves libraries. 🙂 I must admit I am not much of an object-knitter; I much prefer garments, so these aren’t the most enjoyable knit for me. I am looking forward to this project, though so I know it’ll be worth it in the end. Part of the reason this is such a brief post is that I want to get as many made as possible before the 5th, when the project needs to be finished.

Signing up for the vintage pledge

Not long after I started Pastry & Purls, I came across A Stitching Odyssey’s vintage pledge, where she and many of her blog’s followers committed to sew 5 vintage patterns. I was so disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to participate, but alas, felt my sewing skills weren’t up to scratch. Also, I couldn’t possibly have sewn 5 objects between October and December! It was a shame, though, because I already knew that I intended to incorporate vintage into my sewing, whether it be in the pattern or the fabric. I also knew that the dress I’ve now finished would be my first project, and why not make it part of a larger commitment to sew vintage? After all, a big part of the reason I wanted to learn was that I keep falling hopelessly in love with vintage fabric I stumble across in secondhand shops. The drawings on vintage patterns (knitting or sewing) are also irresistible. I can’t deny that I bought sewing patterns long before I had a sewing machine.

You can imagine I was thrilled to read the vintage pledge was going to be happening again this year, this time with Kerry over at Kestrel Makes. I hadn’t come across Kestrel Makes before, but have been reading through her blog & really enjoying her open writing style and the fact that she does both knitting and sewing. (Plus, she sewed a horse – how impressive is that?!) So I will definitely be participating with the vintage pledge this year, albeit with my own take on it. I’m new to sewing, but have been knitting for a few years. So here’s my vintage pledge:

I, Jennifer, will sew at least 3 items using vintage patterns and/or fabric, and knit 2 items using vintage patterns.

Why more sewn items than knitted? Well, it’s a nice excuse to find more patterns, as I don’t have many vintage sewing patterns yet. 😉 I also want to make sure I get more sewing practice to build my confidence. There’s also the fact that vintage sewing patterns, while they will probably require as much interpretation (for me, at least) as a vintage knitting pattern, can at least be made using easy-to-find modern material. Vintage knitting patterns, on the other hand, often use yarn weights that are no longer produced, or are extremely expensive; the pattern may need to be adapted to account for modern yarn, etc. I also think I’ll need to make more size adjustments for knitted garments than sewn. (Unless I randomly decide to sew a wiggle dress, in which case I’m in big trouble!) Happily, last year I bought Knit Back in Time, which gives detailed instructions on just that. Even though I’m just planning to knit 2 vintage items, I want to take my time and try out some of the suggestions in the book this year.

Wish me luck! Will you be participating, too? What’s your personal #vintagepledge?