The Summer That Was

Re-entry after this summer has been really hard, I did not want it to end, we had such a busy time doing lots and lots of things and visiting many places. On the first day of school the weather decided, boom, it was time for autumn and all of a sudden it was done and I’m battling to try to get my head back into my work having taken the summer off (not on purpose but we were doing so much I just never got any work done!).

Anyway one of our two summer holidays (the second being ‘glamping’ with my parents at Hadrian’s Wall) was 4 days in Brighton. I had saved up for a trip to Fabric Land as I’d not been in about 4 years and hadn’t visited in a decent dress fabric shop for a very long time. I managed to come home with about 50 metres of fabric and am ready for next summer’s pyjamas now, along with adding some solids to my stash as I’m feeling more and more that I’m crossing that border between cool and middle-aged with my prints… The middle top two fabrics are from Ditto. I normally don’t find anything I like or can afford in there but these lawns were on sale. It’s still undecided whether the foxes will end up with one of the boys or if I’ll claim them! Stash Enhancement

I just slipped and ordered another 9m of fabric from The Textile Centre on Ebay. 1m is to cover the seats of my kitchen chairs, but the rest is all blue and a lot of the pile of things waiting to be made are blue and I have 1 blue cardigan on the needles and another about to launch, obviously that is my current colour…

These projects aren’t in any order I don’t think. I got this striped fabric from the local fabric sale and my Mother and I both agreed that it needed to be pyjamas. It’s another that feels like cotton but I think it might have some synthetic in it.

PyjamasI used my standard Ottobre pyjama bottom pattern and just added as much length as I could with the fabric I had. I had a big piece left that I didn’t want to waste so I tried out the free By Hand Polly Tank (why you have to register on their site for a free pattern I don’t know, something I find really irritating online). I used some unidentified white cotton from my stash, I think it might be sheeting left over from making Piggle a duvet cover when he was little but it works and it was there waiting to be used. The By Hand pattern has the usual larger bust issues of gaping armholes and too wide neckline, it’s ok for a pyjama top that hardly anyone will see but I’d not bother making it was day wear, it’d take too many alterations to make it fit properly. I like these pyjamas though and they’re quite comfortable and used up stash fabric so win win.

Using up more stash fabric and trying to use some of the many PDF patterns I bought or printed off when I was busy working and couldn’t sew) I made this Riff t-shirt by Cake with some PRR ice cream jersey I’ve had for far too long (still loads left too, why did I buy so much?). It’s not a bad pattern but the neckline doesn’t quite lay flat as you can see and has a slightly odd shape to it. I’ll try a few different versions in the future I’m sure, it could be my fabric as the jersey has virtually no stretch and the cotton ribbing is a little floppy.
Cake T-shirt

It’s wearable though and, again, using up stash fabric rather than letting it sit there forever!

Plain SockAnd, finally, I finished off these plain socks made using Yarntopia Treasure’s Bamboo Cotton Sock yarn. Quite a subtle colour way I think, I won’t misplace my feet!

Now we’re back to it and I am working on finishing up a quilt that my Mother requested for her significant Birthday (I just pin basted it together and have 3 weeks to quilt and bind it so I should finish it, fingers crossed).

I have a big stack of projects waiting to be made and have been thinking a lot about what I want to make and wear and how I want to look, I would like to do a post on that if I find the time as it’s something I’ve been working on for a long time and recently I feel like my style is changing and wondering what the reasons are along with what clothing I want. That was a very confusing sentence!

Anyway, onwards, hopefully will have more to show you soon, the log burner was put to use for the first time last night after a huge delivery of logs arrived so there will be more knitting coming, plenty of projects to finish off so I can start new things!

If you want to see what I’m up to in real time I’m using Instagram as finallywakingup and am the same on Twitter. Not giving up blogging yet though!

Fitting Issues

I’m having issues not just with fitting things in, but with actually making things that fit at the moment. The last two sewing projects I’ve made I can’t wear, which is a little frustrating to say the least. I will keep them both and put them in the suitcase of hopefully this will fit one day and carry on sewing, next up is a t-shirt which should fit, I mean it’s stretchy for goodness sake, but I’m still a little worried that it’ll be another waste of the sewing time I have during the school holiday.

Right after school ended the boys went to their Dad’s for a week, I wrote a sewing list and then realised that not only was I totally knackered and in need of some rest before they came back, but also I am not a sewing machine who can work 24/7, so the list has become for the entire summer rather than just one week, and even in that time period it’s probably too much!

I powered through some small projects to begin with. I bought a voice recorder for my PhD fieldwork as it would be silly to drive back and forth to University to borrow one over and over again, the recorder cost about as much as two journeys so it was worth it. Of course, I like everything to have a case, so I pulled out some scraps and the case pattern that I’ve used several times before and in about half an hour start to finish I now have a case that makes me happy to see in my bag.

Recorder PouchRecorder Pouch
Recorder PouchYes, the fabric is sideways, but I love the fabric and can live with it!

I was still in the mood for something quick and easy so I pulled out the Sock Sack pattern, fabric and zip that I’d put together a few months back and sewed it up. Like my first version I lined the sack so that all the seams were hidden (and it just looks prettier that way). I love these sock sacks and am going to have to be careful that I don’t end up with a whole heap of them like I did with the Japanese bags I made many moons back. Sock SackSock SackWhilst watching all three series of Vikings available on Amazon Prime (I love Ragnar and Co., can’t wait for the next series!) I worked on the Hexy MF quilt that has been hanging around forever and a day. I finished connecting all the flowers together into one piece (except for 6 that will be scattered top and bottom) and earlier on Piggle and I pinned it onto the backing (which is the front, front backing, backing of the quilt top???). Now I have to appliqué around the whole thing, that shouldn’t take long right?!?

I also finished off Piggle’s Ziggy Jumper and I’m really happy with the way it came out.

ZiggyThe photo isn’t odd, it is a long thin jumper for a long thin boy! I used Woolcraft Nuvo DK from Kemps, it took 2.5 balls which means this jumper cost about £4! It’s a really soft acrylic that knit up really evenly and nicely. We’ll see how it washes but if it goes well I’ll definitely buy another colour way or two for more jumpers for the boys. I did find myself trying to pick out the flecks like they shouldn’t be there, took a while to convince my brain they were ok but I got there in the end. I did the body length for an 8 year old and the sleeve length for a 9 year old as he has monkey arms and always grows out of the sleeves of things first. It’s a good fit, not too huge but with a few inches of growth in it and he’s happy with it so it’s a winner.  

I seem to have bought quite a few patterns online in the last six month, I’ve got a stack of printed PDFs that need sticking together and using. Maybe when I’m not able to sew buying sewing things makes me feel like I’m doing something! All the PDF patterns are on my to do list but I decided to try the Bettine Dress from Tilly and the Buttons first. I’ve never made one of her patterns before as they aren’t really my style and I don’t think they would suit my body type, but I’m still looking for that perfect dress pattern and had high hopes for this. Bettine Dress

I added two inches to the bodice length and I’m glad that I did as it *just* hits me on my waist, there’s none of the blousey goings on that the pattern shows in the picture and I’m really short waisted, so if you have larger boobs to fit into the dress I’d bear that in mind. The pattern is well drafted and went together quickly, there are some nice details and I love the big pockets.

Bettine DressThe fabric is from Abakhan so it’s another 7 year oldish piece. I have enough left for a Scout so I may make that soon as I’ll not be wearing this dress this summer as sadly it doesn’t fit me. The bust just fits, despite the pattern claiming that it was going to be 2 inches larger than my bust, and the waist and hips are too tight on me. Should it ever fit it is a high contender for the uniform dress I’m looking for I think, but until then it’s into the suitcase with it.

Next up was the Aida Top which I’d bought the pattern for ages ago. I used a piece of the vintage fabric from the local sale. Again, like the last piece I used, it stinks of old lady house when being ironed and it’s another synthetic that looks like cotton, although it has a slight sheen to it. Aida Top Aida Top

That back collar isn’t fabulous, but it would be covered with hair. Some serious french seaming went into this, the collar was sewn many times what with two lots of french seams and under stitching. This is the second project that doesn’t fit me though, I’m not too gutted about it actually as I think this crosses the line from ‘vintage looking’ to ‘granny cleaning smock’, it’s a very narrow line and I feel like I walk the edge of it a lot when it comes to using vintage fabric or patterns. I didn’t make buttonholes as it wasn’t worth the swearing with this fabric and I knew by that point that I wasn’t going to be wearing it (maybe ever) so the buttons are just sewn through both layers. We’ll see how I feel about it should it ever fit or if it goes right to the charity shop (although I’ll have to change the buttons if it does as those are vintage from my Granny or Great Aunt’s collections that I inherited).

Anyway, as I said, it’s a t-shirt up next using the Cake Riff pattern, hopefully that will be wearable this summer. My list has about another 10 projects on it, maybe more (and two of those are quilts, I dream big!), so hopefully I will be back to show you more finished things soon. I still haven’t blocked the other jumper I finished a few weeks back so I must get that done sometime too.

Hope it’s not raining everywhere, and if it is that you’re getting to take advantage of the sewing time!

A New Troop of Scouts

I’ve been living in Scout’s in summer for quite a few years now, back when the pattern was free as I definitely wouldn’t have paid the current price for such a simple pattern. Anyway, I think that the reason I was so annoyed with the Archer sweatshirts is because the Scout pattern has always worked so well for me, it’s comfortable, it shows off nice fabrics simply and it’s easy to wear. I go through a few each summer from wearing the to death and/or spilling stuff on them and I realised a few weeks back that I was down to my last one in the cupboard (and I’ve since had to admit that no matter how much I loved that one it really needed to be binned) so I cut and bath sewed three for this summer. I add an inch or so to the bottom of the pattern so they hit where I want, depends on how much fabric I have available as to how much gets added on.
ScoutThis fabric was from Abakan so it’s at least 7 years old now, and I’ve got enough to make something else with it to as the piece was about 3m long. If you look at it hard you’ll notice that it’s a misprint, the dots are a bit wrong and sometimes fuzzy, but that kind of makes me like it more! ScoutThis fabric was from Fabricland in Brighton probably about, maybe, 4 years or so now I think. We’re going to Brighton again in the summer so I’ve made sure there is money available on the credit card for a visit, it’s been too long since I’ve been to a fabric shop and I’m looking forward to it and hoping they have some good kids prints for pjs as I’m totally out now! The print on this is raised and slightly plasticy which means that it has to be ironed on the wrong side or the iron doesn’t move over it which was a little annoying but I got there in the end. ScoutThis is a piece of the vintage fabric I got from the local sale. It looks a lot like lawn and hangs that way but it’s actually a synthetic. It will either be really nice and breezy or I’ll suffocate in it, we’ll have to see. The fabric smells of old lady house when it’s ironed, I can never figure out where that scent comes from but it’s unmistakeable! Luckily the fabric doesn’t smell when not boiling hot under an iron otherwise I’d not be able to wear it due to being very sensitive to smell! All of these have french seams, which is always good for some comedy moments when trying to set in gathered sleeves as I forget which sides to match every single time!

Seems I never showed you Caramel which I finished back at the end of May Caramel CaramelCaramelI think I’m done with these blanket front cardigans for a little while, although there’s still a few on my queue to try. Don’t know why I made two in quick succession right before the summer… Anyway, this is made from Sirdar Simply Recycled DK (Kemps have more of this and the Aran weight on sale at something stupid like 79p a ball, I’ve stocked up with more than enough from previous sale prices though I think!). I like the grey and the green together and this yarn is a favourite of mine which means that it’s been discontinued!

This was a really easy knit, just back and forth forever and ever. The pattern calls for the sleeves to be knit in the round but my gauge differs so much between back and forth and the round that I knit them flat and seamed them instead. I like the way this turned out and it’s comfortable to wear.

Yesterday I finished off my second version of the Atelier pattern using some Freedom Gorgeous that I got from Kemps (again discontinued so I’ve got a good stash of it). I love this pattern, it’s simple and yet interesting at the same time. The yarn colour is called Parsley and the first picture is the closest to true. I made the non-icord version this time around for a change, I do like the i-cord but I think with bamboo it wouldn’t have held it’s roundness anyway.
20150710_174809Atelier 2Atelier 2You knit the yoke and then the sleeves and once they’re seamed you pick up around the fronts of the yoke and work downwards from there with some shaping. I love the way this bamboo acrylic yarn shows off the difference between the garter and stocking stitch sections, it isn’t as clear in the marled version I made previously. I’m sure I’ll use this pattern over and over again as the finished cardigan is so comfortable and useful.

I finished off another knitted project this morning but I’m not all that enamoured with it and it needs blocking so it’s on a time out before I will show it to you. It’s not horrid, just not what I hoped it would be and it had some issues along the way that have made us less than best friends!

Finally, this is the final block I made for the Do Good Stitches bee. I had to drop out because I just was finding it hard to fit in the blocks and when I did I felt a bit annoyed about having to do them, which really wasn’t all that charitable! I decided that, sadly as I enjoy Bees, that I need to keep my sewing time as stress relief rather than stress causing.

Do Good Stitches block, June 2015I think that’s everything I’ve completed of late. I’ve been working on a quilt but I’m still a long way off finishing it. I bought a load of patterns a few weeks back for some reason so those have gone in the big pile. My Mother has asked for a quilt for her significant Birthday coming up and being efficient she picked out the pattern and fabrics from my stash when she was here forPiggle’s Birthday so I just need to buy some solids and backing and get it made, I’m going to start cutting later today. I have warned her that she’ll probably not get it in September, especially considering it took about three weeks to make three simple shirts! I’m hoping that once it’s cut it’ll be something that I can nip in andpiece a block in an evening so it keeps makingsteady progress, also with the summer holidays coming up I might be able to spend more time on it, we’ll see. It will be nice to get another quilt made though, I have fabric for about six in my sewing room that have been waiting for a few years now. At least my Mum’s quilt is 16FQs out of the stash rather than them just sitting there looking at me!

Good Busy

After saying how I haven’t been managing to get much done I’ve had two days where I’ve done quite a bit. Fair enough none of it is University work, but all things that were on my long mental list of things to do!

We went out yesterday to use our year long tickets at Alnwick Castle one more time before they run out just before Piggle’s Birthday. We had seen that the jesters would be there again and we enjoyed their show a lot before. Of course, being us nipping to Alnwick also involves a tip to Sainsburys, the dump (why Northumberland doesn’t collect glass with the other recycling I don’t know) and this time to Homebase too as I’ve decided to add a raised bed of vegetables to the things I want to spend time on (hah!). The bed they had there was ok but I’m looking online to see if I can find something cheaper that can be delivered to the house. I did come away with 120l of compost to start filling it when I do buy one though!

Jim had seen a sign for Dunstaburgh Castle on the way to Alnwick so we decided to ‘pop over’ for a visit. It was a little further than I thought it would be and I wondered on the way if it was the one on the coast I’d just seen a picture of. After finding a space in the pay and display car park that is signed for the castle we wandered around a bit as there is no signage at all to tell you which way to go out of the car park, very confusing. Turned out that it’s actually a pretty long walk to get there and the boys moaned all the way about it, I tried to ignore them and enjoy the view.

20150525_163208The way we came from
20150525_155045The castle.

It was absolutely beautiful, best placement for a castle I’ve ever seen I think. Northumberland is such an amazing place and I don’t think there’s anywhere in the UK that’s better for National Trust and English Heritage membership, we have joined both and use them all the time. We’re looking forward to another summer of investigating local places, we did tons last year and only scratched the surface. I’ve got 4 days planned just for Hadrians Wall with some glamping this summer as a surprise for the boys who have been asking to go camping for ages (I won’t tow anything and I don’t sleep on the ground so glamping will have to do them!).

Whilst in Sainsburys pre-castles I picked up some bits to make some jam using the rhubarb that has shot up again in the garden and also bought some cucumbers etc to make pickles. While the jam was cooking I sat down and made a list of what I want to can this summer.

IMG_20150525_190113I then went onto Amazon and ordered more jars and lids! It’s going to be a tasty year that’s for sure.

I thought I’d wait until today to start doing that but I was in the mood last night so I got the canning pot going and set to work. It turned out to be a very pink evening.
IMG_20150525_225229Three jars of Sweet and Sour Pickled Red Onions, Rhubarb juice to make Rhubarb Syrup today and 4 jars of Rhubarb and Strawberry Jam. All the recipes are Food in Jars, the jam is from the website.
I also prepped the cucumbers, onions and peppers for the Bread and Butter Pickes that I made today along with the syrup.
IMG_20150526_122758Those are 1 litre jars at the back, they are seriously good pickles! I’m going to make another batch as soon as I’ve ordered a few more large bottles of cider vinegar, the little Aspell organic ones aren’t big enough for this recipe and are too pricey for canning. The Rhubarb Syrup I’m thinking will taste good with tonic water, haven’t decided whether it would go best with gin or vodka yet, will make a choice and buy some to try soon!

I have apricots waiting for the jam thermometer to arrive tomorrow too and another shopping list of bits to buy for the next lot. It’s really enjoyable to see the shelf in the storage room filling up with jars and I’m hoping the rhubarb grows fast as I’ve got jam and jelly that I want to make with it!

This afternoon I finished up two sets of summer pjs for Jim (Piggle’s from last year will do another year thankfully).
Simplicity 9499
Simplicity 9499

I don’t bother ironing too well as he’s just going to lie on them!

These are Simplicity 9499, mainly for the fact that it was the right size for him and I wouldn’t have to adjust it too much. I ran out of Swedish tracing paper a while back and that sewing reality show thing that used it put the price right up so I’ve not bought any more and therefore can’t trace larger sizes of my Ottobre or Kwik Sew patterns. I had to take 1.5 inches off the bottom of the trousers and like all Big 4 patterns they’re pretty boxy and baggy but that’s what you want from pjs really I think. The green is ribbing that I dyed Dylon olive green in the machine. For some reason I have about 20 metres of white ribbing, and I’m not kidding, there’s tons of it in my stash that I have inherited from other people who bought too much, so I figured using up a few metres of it for pjs was a good idea. The cowboy print I got from Abakhan donkey’s ago and have wondered ever since why I bought it, but Jim liked it so it’s used up now.

I was trying to think of how many times I’ve used the dinosaur print now and I got to 4 minimum. This is the last big bits of it (I have a few small pieces I kept for facings and sentimentality as Jim was a toddler the first time he had pjs from it) and I didn’t have enough for the back of the t-shirt so that’s the solid green. The necks are really wide for some reason, I probably should have cut them down a bit but I’m not taking them off and playing with them. Jim has a horrid habit of chewing neckbands anyway so they won’t stay white and clean for long, how baggy they are really won’t matter!

Next up I’m cutting out a blouse for myself and then I’m going to work on my last bee block, I’d like to get both those done by the end of the week but I also have essay marking to do, a presentation to get ready for next Monday, more canning and another day out to the seaside with the boys so we’ll see how I get on! Hopefully the enthusiasm will continue to keep me moving.

Now off to see if I can finish off the sleeve of a cardigan so I can sew that up and get it off the never ending list this week!

Finding Time

It’s hard to find time at the moment for anything, it feels like. I have a huge mental list of things I want to do and I only get a fraction of them done. I guess it’s always been that way, I have always tried to fit in more than I possibly can, but I definitely don’t have as much ‘free’ time as I used to have, nowhere near as much as I had before the PhD work, but less than previous years since I started that, and I can only see it getting harder and harder for the next few years as I really have to keep my head down and finish the thing off (I’m at the end of my 4th year out of 6).

I also did some seminar teaching this semester which I loved (students kept showing up for the 11 weeks so I must not have totally sucked!). It’s a relief that I enjoyed it, to be honest, as I’ve been saying for years that I want to teach at University and I was worried that it would be yet another job that I thought I wanted to do and then discovered, upon actually trying it, that I didn’t! It took a lot more time with the preparation and the marking than I thought it would and next year I am going to do double what I did this year.

I’m not very focussed either, I’m loving what I’m doing, this year has been wonderful compared to last year where the whole PhD experience pretty much sucked and I felt like I made no progress at all. This year I have achieved some pretty good things and I’m excited about what I’m doing. I still haven’t found a way to make myself work though and to stop my mind going off 20 directions at once and I waste so much time it’s criminal, especially when you consider that I don’t have much time to work while the boys are at school and all the other things I could be doing if I didn’t have to work weekends and evenings to make up for the time I let slip away during the day. I really need to sort it out but figuring out how also takes time!

Anyway, I have been making things, just not as much or as quickly as usual, but here is the most recent batch of things I’ve not shown you.

First up the Austin Hoodie. I bought the yarn and pattern for this ages ago and it seemed like I was working on it forever, but for some reason I didn’t put a start date in Ravelry so I don’t actually know how long it took.

Austin Hoodie(how come there is a basket of washing in the background of almost all my photos, you’d think I’d notice the bright yellow thing but I never seem to…)

I do know that I was working on the fronts last August in Edinburgh and that after the body and hood was done it sat forever waiting for sleeves. It’s a really interesting design in that the sleeves are picked up and knit down with short rows forming the shoulders. It looks really nice but the fact that I hate picking up stitches and that short rows piss me off made me not want to work on it.

Austin HoodieI finally did the first sleeve and it wasn’t too bad and then I put it down again and made it wait another few months for the second sleeve. There are hems, I think I messed up one of the sleeve hems but I can live with it.

Austin HoodieI sewed the zip in by machine, probably should have pinned it rather than doing it freehand as I had to unpick and do the middle section again, got there in the end though!

Not quite rightI’m really happy with the way this came out, I love yarn which is Freedom Gorgeous (I’m currently working on my third garment using it, of course it’s been discontinued, bastards). I got it for a steal from Kemps and I have rather a lot of it stashed still to be used. This shade is Delphinium and it’s a new colour for me so I will have to figure out what to wear it with, besides my usual black that is.

I saw on a blog the Fancy Tiger Crafts One Hour Top which is a free pattern so I printed it out and had a go. I’m not sure this shape really works on me but it seems to be the in thing right now so I figured I’d give it a go. For once I decided that I would use plain fabric, I usually reach for the brightest stuff first, so I used up some french terry that has been there for ages.

One Hour TopOne Hour TopThe pattern is right, it is quick, that is until you decide to stop the fabric being too boring by using jeanstitch thread and a twin needle and your sewing machine decides it hates you and the world.

oppsThe belt apparently slipped, but I guess at least I know how to get hold of the sewing machine repair man, although it did cost me £45. Anyway, I carried on with this machine which is the one I learnt to sew on as a teenager. My Mum was going to get rid of it so I grabbed it and was glad I did now that I don’t live close enough to her to pop over and borrow her machine!

The machine I learnt to sew onThis machine didn’t like the thread needle combination either so I had to use a single needle and do two lines of stitching, It worked quite well and I’m happy with the top, although I think if I use the pattern again I’ll add an inch or so to the length.

One Hour TopWe’ve lived here coming up on a year now, unbelievably, we all adore Northumberland so we’re going to stay put for a few more years. I finally got around to making my bedroom curtains, I’ve only had the fabric for about six months or so…

Bedroom Curtains(they hang a lot better than this now that they’ve been up a month or so, and they’re properly gathered, they look like crap here for some reason!)

The fabric is from Ikea and the linings are from my Mother. I’ve been putting this off for so long and in the end it took about an hour and a half including shortening the linings, always the way isn’t it? The fabric is a nice thick cotton and I used the full width so I just had to line up the print and then hem the edges and attach the curtain tape. One more set of curtains to find for the boys room, the windows here are a length that doesn’t match any for sale and I can’t find a print we all agree on either so we will keep hunting for either pre-made (although they’re so bloody expensive and I’ll have to buy a long set and cut 20″ off the bottom which is annoying) or fabric.

I saw the pattern for the Alchemill Shawl in the ads on Ravelry. I’m actually proof that the ads work as I find a lot of things I want to make from them. I bought the pattern and had cast on with some Yarntopia Treasures Bamboo Cotton Laceweight in the colourway Canary Islands within a few hours.

Alchemill Shawl(it was either bright or foggy in my sewing room the day I took these pictures, sorry)

It was a really easy fun knit, although I seem to have messed up some of the increases but hopefully not too noticeably (I hope, blind man, horse). It took me less than a month to make this which is amazing for me and a shawl but I was enjoying the yarn colours a lot, knitting as colour therapy once again. Why browns were comforting in Spring I don’t know!

Alchemill Shawl
Alchemill ShawlAnyway, it wasn’t until I blocked this that I realised what an odd shape it’s designed to be, it took me a few minutes to get my head around it and figure out how it should be pinned out. I’m still not sure how I’ll wear it as I don’t tend to drape shawls over my shoulders in the traditional way. Anyway, I love it and am glad I made it.

Alchemill ShawlAnd finally we have the Sureau sleeveless dress by Deer and Doe. Roo made a few of these I believe and convinced me to buy the pattern several years back but I never got around to making it.

SureauI lengthened the bodice by two inches as per my usual ‘giving the boobs more room’ strategy, the waistline now hits me on the waist. I find that often length is all I need rather than a traditional FBA (which I’ve never learnt to do and can’t be bothered to figure out, life’s too short to be messing around with patterns that don’t fit) I took the two inches off the skirt length before hemming.

The fabric I won from Maria Denmark (I’ve ‘known’ Maria online for many many years now and I still think of her in my head as ‘Maria Denmark’ never just as ‘Maria’ for some reason!) ages ago along with the blouse pattern she’d just released but I never made the blouse (seeing a pattern with my sewing ways here?). She included some extra fabric she’d found so there was plenty for a dress and I love the way it looks. It’s a stretch cotton (poplin maybe) and the only issue with it is that it creases if you look at it sideways so I will look my usual mess even when I’m wearing a dress I guess.

Sureau(there’s the basket again, sometimes it lives at the other end of the hallway, just to mix it up a bit)

The zip will never come out. I don’t get along with the invisible zipper foot that came with my Janome, it doesn’t seem to get right to the edge of the zip so I sewed each side in about three times to try and make it invisible. It’s close enough but I must see if there’s a different foot available or find a way to use this one better before I attempt another one as it was incredibly annoying. The pattern was really easy and I’m imagining winter versions with sleeves, maybe out of cord, we’ll see if that ever happens!

So, that’s all that’s finished. I’m making progress on lots of different knitting projects and should have another one finished this week, I also have some summer pyjamas cut out for Jim that I want to get done soon so hopefully I will be back sooner, I think I say that every single time, maybe I need a new blogging strategy because I still love blogging and the interaction of it and sharing my makes with like-minded people. I think I will try and do shorter blog posts with one or two things rather than saving them up and it taking forever to put together a post.

Thanks for sticking around for my sporadic posts!

Getting It Done

I had one of those weeks; car trouble, kid off school sick one day, lack of focus, lack of money, wasted trip to University and then on Friday a total fail at managing to record the focus group that I was doing for my research, nothing, nada on the recorder… I did throw a wobbly briefly, but then realised with what had come before during the week I really should have expected it. I emailed the school where I did the group to ask if I could go back (I can thank goodness) and wrote down everything I could remember and then tried to let it go and stop stressing (it sort of worked, I feel ok now but I’m still annoyed about it every now and again).

Something that has been bugging me is the unfinished things that I’m making and I am finding it adds to my stress, so for the last few weeks I’ve been trying to make a dent. Anyone who has read my blog for a little while will recognise the pattern, I start everything and then I get fed up with it all laying around and try to finish everything. I have sewing projects that I want done so I can work on a quilt though. Getting out fabric for a quilt and working on it takes most of the sewing room space and I didn’t want to bury other things. First order of business was to throw out the shirt that I brought with me when I moved in the summer and have never finished, if it’s sat there that long just needing sleeves it’s not something I am dying to wear. I then hemmed one leg of a pair of school trousers that have been waiting for goodness knows how long.

I still have the fabric for my bedroom curtains sitting there. I moved about 9 months ago and bought the fabric about 7 months ago and I’ve not managed to make two rectangles…. I need to buy some curtain tape and then just get them done. I also have a pair of jeans with a rip in the inner leg that I’m contemplating how to repair, or if they’re worth repairing, and as I only put them in there last week they’re not bugging me too much.

I had some Do Good Stitches blocks to get done, I’ve made these before and found them really annoying, but this time the paper piecing went incredibly easily and they were done in about an hour, using up more bits from the scrap basket.

Do Good Stitches Blocks
As I was all set up for paper piecing I began working on a cover for my cafetiere that I’ve had the idea in my head for years for. I bought the coffee cup paper pieced pattern from Don’t Call Me Betsy as soon as she released it and then had it sitting there forever. At the end of my sewing time on the first day I had this.

Don't Call Me Betsy Coffee Cup
At the time I walked away happy, chuckling that I had a ‘Kaffe Cup’, but after a few hours the fact that the handle was the ‘wrong’ way around began to really bug me. I tried to live with it, but in the end I took it apart and put it on the ‘proper’ side. I wonder if Elizabeth is left handed, or maybe she doesn’t worry about which way her cup sits, but my brain just couldn’t take it!

Coffee CoverI used the special batting that holds heat in and kind of guessed at the size of it which is why it doesn’t quite fit properly. I’m still happy with it though, it’ll do it’s job and that’s what matters. I may go back and fix the bit of binding that I sewed through, it’s annoying me a little but not enough to re-thread the machine for it.
Coffee CoverThe green pansy print is also one of my all time favourite prints so it’s lovely to have it used for something that’s on show all the time in the kitchen. The linen and solid Kona cotton were all from scraps too so this didn’t cost a thing.

Fabric Sale

A little bit of stash enhancement from the second local fabric sale. The fabric is mainly vintage and in about 2y lengths, I don’t know what it was being stashed for. All the proceeds go to charity and they prices had been knocked right down this time as they wanted to get rid of it so I got 19m/y for £20. I have prewashed it but it still has that ‘old lady’s house’ smell which I’m hoping will fade with time and not spread to the rest of my fabric!

Another knitting project has moved from my desk to the living room to await sleeves. This is Caramel, another blanket type cardigan but with added stripes!

Caramel Cardigan

I am seriously bogged down with sleeves in my knitting right now. I have done one and a bit for a lovely blue cardigan I want to work on more but never seem to find time for, I am working on the first sleeve for a jumper my Mum bought to make herself and can’t due to the stroke, it’s got a lace and cable pattern so I’ve started with the sleeves first to get used to it. Then these two from Caramel and the final sleeve for my Austin Hoodie which is literally the only bit of the cardigan left to do, it’s been sitting there for about six months waiting for a single sleeve. My excuse is that it’s one where you pick up the stitches and knit down using short rows, as I don’t like picking up stitches or short rows it has put me off working on it, but earlier today on a mission I got going on it so hopefully that will be done soon and I can get on with some of the other sleeves!

And finally, I sorted out the two Linden Sweatshirt disasters so that they’re wearable. This is the first one made from Sherpa and a wide rib knit.

Linden SweatshirtAnd the second one made from a thermal knit that I love and have saved for ages and black cotton ribbing I bought specifically to use for this project, that combination is why I didn’t just chuck it in the bin along with the pattern when it went horribly wrong but instead spent my time unpicking the overlocking so I could fix it.

Linden SweatshirtSo, I left the bottom ribbing alone, it’s actually a little too tight but it will be fine. The cuffs I took three inches off of, yes THREE INCHES, and they’re still not tight around my wrists but they’re not clown like as they were before. The collar I cut a size 2 for (the body of the sweatshirt is a size 16) and then doubled the depth of the ribbing so that it has some stretch left to pull the neckline back in. I really don’t understand why pattern makers think that larger women need wider necklines, even if we have wider shoulders that’s the outside of the garment not beside the neck, and if we’re larger chested we usually have wider bra straps that need covering, so wide necklines just suck (as does the amount of times I used the word wider in that sentence…). I don’t know whether I’ll use this pattern again, maybe if I lose a considerable amount of weight and can use the smaller sizes that seem to be fine, but the way it’s drafted, for the 16 at least, is terrible and disappointing, hopefully now they’ll be wearable though, at least around the house.

I do have a few garment projects in my head that I want to work on, but nothing is further along than a pattern sitting with a piece of fabric so they’re not causing me stress and if I need a break from the quilt I will drag one out and make it quickly. Cue tiny bit of fabric flying everywhere (and maybe some curtains over the Easter Holiday)!

More Than I Thought

It seems that I’ve finished off more projects than I thought I had. I feel at the moment that I’ve very little time for making things and I grab whatever time I can find, but it’s never enough. I do miss the days when I had all the time I wanted to make things, but I love what I’m doing now too and hopefully one day it’ll all balance out again!

First up I made a Sock Sack from an online tutorial to hold a plain sock for me to work on when I’m away from home. It was really easy and fast and I’m very happy with the way it came out, I love the fabric and it’s great to carry it around with me all the time.

052054The second picture if of the current sock in progress, I think it’s bright enough! The only change I made to the pattern was to add a simple lining. I cut a piece of fabric the same size as the bag and folded over the top then just sewed it to the bag as I was sewing the casings. The front pocket holds my heel turning notes and a tape measure.

I always have a simple knit/purl project on my desk to work on while I’m reading. I find that I stay in the chair longer if I have something to do with my hands when I don’t need to take notes. This is the most recent completed one (I don’t work the sleeves at the desk as using dpns requires more attention than I want to give). This is the Effortless Cardigan by Hannah Fettig. I used Sirdar Baby Speckle from Kemps.

Effortless Cardigan
Effortless Cardigan
Effortless CaridganI’m not sure why those pictures are so wonky… It was indeed effortless to knit. I’m not sure why I knit such a big size though, I sort of wish I’d either gone down a size or knit the size I did with slightly smaller needles as the gauge is a little loose for this yarn. Anyway, it’s comfortable to wear and nice and warm when you cross the fronts before zipping your coat. It’s also nice to have something a little lighter colour in my collection of cardigans, I seem to knit dark or very bright colours so this is new territory for me!

Next up was the second of my Knitters Curiosity Cabinet challenge, the Conferva villosa Hat. I used a ball of Sirdar Calico left over from another project and the furry bobble that I bought from the Knitting and Stitching Show a few years back.

Conferva villosa HatI really like this and the bobble always makes me smile. I think I will need to sew through some elastic though as the yarn doesn’t have much recovery so it’s stretching out. I cast on for the next project, a pair of socks, this week just to keep it going! I am looking forward to getting to a shawl as I’ve not made one in a while so hopefully that will motivate me to get on with the socks, we’ll see…

I made a Clapotis right when the pattern came out many years ago. I was pretty new to knitting at the time and used a very thick yarn and it came out more like a blanket and was basically un-wearable. I’ve had a gap in my shawl collection for a while and have thought many many times that I’d love a plain red shawl or scarf, so I pulled out some Rowan Bamboo Soft that had been intended for a project that I have since gone off and made myself a red scarf!

ClapotisAs with most reds the colour is off in these pictures, it’s a darker much less orange-red than this. I’ve worn this a few times already and I love it, the yarn is indeed very very soft (although a real bitch to knit with as the balls tangle and fall apart left right and centre). I love that it can be a simple scarf or widen out into a shawl or lap blanket as needed!

And finally, I seem to be all about the practical makes at the moment. I needed a bag to use for University days that was big enough to hold my work, my knitting, my lunch, my notebooks and anything else that I needed to take along. I kept finding myself with several bags or one very stuffed and uncomfortable bag or leaving things at home that I might need because I didn’t want to overstuff my bag. Cue Elizabeth Hartman’s Perfect Quilted Tote, some duck cloth from Ebay, some fabric I bought for another bag I never got around to even buying the pattern for and a good dig through my scrap basket and here we are.

Perfect Quilted Tote
Perfect Quilted Tote
Quilted Tote InsideThe green stripe is the top of a slip pocket. I used up scraps of some of my very favourite fabrics on this so I get to see them all the time. I did make the bag bigger than the pattern. I actually went OTT and had to cut about 2 inches off the width as it was a little comical so it ended up about 2-3″ longer than the pattern and half an inch taller. I also used the longer handles from the other sized bag as I wanted to be able to push the bag around to my back while I walk rather than having it under my arm the whole time. I didn’t put a magnetic snap on it as I worry about those and electronic devices (I’m sure it’d be fine, but I worry enough without adding things to my list!).

The bag is a great success and I adore it, the size is perfect, maybe actually a little too big, but that means that I can put shopping in it too! I really enjoyed this pattern and I will make myself another one at some point I’m sure, the quilt as you go is both challenging and brainless.

Right, I have some machine paper piecing calling my name and also some hovering which I’ve been ignoring for far too long! Happy making to you all!