Last Few Things (for now!)

So these are the last unblogged items as of today (I’m scheduling a few posts while I am together enough to type them up!). I’m sure I’ll soon have more to show you but I won’t feel bad about being so far behind in my blogging which will be nice!

I have been wanting to alter the bust dart on the Cabin dress since I made my denim version (which I finally mended a few days ago so I can wear it again, only took a few weeks which is a miracle for me!). I read up on how to do it in a few online tutorials and measured where I wanted to move it to and then never got around to it. In the meantime I got fed up with my non-supportive cheap bras and splurged on 3 new bras from Bravissimo (all the same as it’s my favourite style, just different colours). Luckily I measured again before cutting the pattern as it appears that with proper support my bust is an inch higher than with the crappy bras, as you can see from my markings, the dot was the first marking and the x is the new bra mark! Cabin Dress Pattern AdjustmentIt’s an incredibly simple alteration, just draw around the dart and cut it out then move it up or down however far you need it (3 inches for this pattern) and re-draw the lines above or below where you’ve moved it to, job done. It worked absolutely perfectly and I finally cut out the fabric that I have wanted to use for this pattern, and actually bought the pattern to go with, now that I know the alterations I need to make (like adding 4 inches to the length as it’s incredibly short). I did another test version first using some very subtle viscose from The Textile Centre (another cheap offcut for about £2.99) Cabin ShirtThe dressform doesn’t have my cup size, trust me, the darts point right at the nips like they’re supposed to!
Cabin ShirtThis is so fun and comfortable to wear, nice and swishy with the soft flowy fabric. I think I explained before that the reason I wanted to move the dart rather than doing a FBA was that I was happy with the general fit of the dress. I actually make a smaller size than my measurements call for as I want it less sack like (look, I’m learning finally!) and with a FBA (which the pattern explains in detail how to do and has markings on it to aid with) you add width to the entire garment which wasn’t at all what I wanted to do. The alteration I went with sorted just what I wanted it to and I’ll be using it on other things in the future I’m sure.

Someone on Instagram posted a picture of themselves in Tessuti’s Demi Pant(s) and I really liked them so I bought a copy of the pattern and cut some out from the cheap thin denim I’ve been using for everything lately. I added two sizes in width because, although the waist measurement of the largest size was right for me, and despite the fact that I’m half a stone lighter (7lbs) than before I had the operation, I’m sporting a massive gut that I can’t do anything about right now as I can’t run or diet and I’m going to have another operation that messes with it in a few months anyway. Along with that, I need to be able to pull the pants up over my stoma without dislodging it so I needed the extra width. After that long-winded explanation I will now say that I can get away with adding one size as these came up a tad too large, but live and learn! The details of these pants are great, this is the bottom of the legs, there’s a pleat front and back. Tessuti Demi PantsAnd the pockets have a facing on them, they’re set into the side seams rather than having the inside pocket bag showing like many patterns do at the moment. Tessuti Demi PantsAnd here’s a totally crap picture of them hanging up, I will try to put a picture on Instagram when I wear them for the first time (username is finallywakingup). Tessuti Demi PantsThese are not the most flattering trousers in the world on me, probably due to their hugeness that is required for gut/stoma coverage, they’re very MC Hammer / CoCo the Clown, but they are so comfortable and cool looking that I’m going to wear them anyway and make another pair from some black linen I remembered I have. They will be cool and comfortable and give me something other than jogging bottoms or pyjamas after the operation, never thought it was possible to get fed up with wearing pjs… I didn’t put the row of stitching around the middle of the elastic as I want to be able to tighten it in the future if they wear well enough. This is a great pattern and worth the extra 16p I paid for spending Australian Dollars on my credit card!

Finally, for both this post and the fabric that has been in my stash for ages waiting to be used, I made another Fen shirt. This uses the shirt tail variation with the round neck. The fabric is double gauze and I stupidly didn’t buy enough to have a choice of patterns with it, I’ve pulled it and the other piece I bought out over and over and it’s never worked before. I managed to add 1.5″ in length which I did’t think would be enough but turns out it is. Fen ShirtThe neck came out a bit wide so I will narrow it for better bra strap coverage. Just as I’m not 6 ft tall just because I’m heavy, I also don’t have a huge head or a fat neck so I don’t need necklines to be wider than the smaller sizes, in fact I often need them narrower as my bra straps are wider. I am going to use the other piece of double gauze for another one like this so I can stop being annoyed by them hanging out in the stash taking up space.

So far this year I’ve sewn 29 things (I didn’t count the sock sack from the last post as it wasn’t my fabric) and used up 55 yards/metres of fabric. However, so far this year I’ve purchased 61 1/2 yards/metres, which doesn’t count what should arrive sometime today (think there’s 12 metres of that…). I have a stack of fabric that I’m going to give to the charity shop so I will add that to my used up total as it’s moving out of the stash. I’m happy with what I’ve been making, I seem to have found some sort of style that I want to follow along with and I’m making more things that actually can be worn together which is nice. I got tired of jogging bottoms and slobbing about even though I don’t really go out very much right now so I’m trying to wear nicer clothes. I sometimes feel that it’s a waste to wear nice things when I’m just sitting inside all the time, but it does actually make me feel better about myself if I am wearing things that are ‘me’ so I will carry on making things to fit into my current idea of who I am and what I want to look like. At some point I will begin leaving the house more again!

Catching Up

Trying to get everything blogged and back up to date! I’ve been doing quite a lot of quick things and working my way through the pile of projects that had been cut out for a while. There are only 2 shirts left from that lot, 1 t-shirt was a wadder that I didn’t bother to finish and the rest are done and in rotation being worn. Last week my piles of things to make expanded to 3. I got rid of one of them, the waiting to be cut right now pile, when I did my cutting spree on Saturday, but it’s back again with 2 more things waiting to be cut out. On top of the cut out and to be cut out piles there’s the waiting for me to get around to them pile. On it is a Lady Skater dress, 2 Almada dressing gowns (I taped the pattern and bought the notions for those last week), a Victoria Blazer, a patchwork bag, a project case, a Bethioua for my sister and a Roberts Jumpsuit. The last few projects I’ve made weren’t actually on my long written list, which is just like me really, make a plan and then do something else entirely!

So, first up, two more Montlake Tee’s, both using fabric from The Textile Centre.
Montlake TeeMontlake Tee

The pink stripe was a £2.99 remnant so cheap and cheerful, I need to do a few short-sleeved ones, although I have plenty of shirts that I should wear instead of t-shirts I guess.

Speaking of shirts, I have made a few lately, first up was the Sutton Blouse that I’d cut out ages ago from a lovely dark blue viscose from Fabric Land in Brighton. I french seamed the whole thing, although that made the side vents a pain but I fudged them.
Sutton BlouseSuttonSutton

I really don’t need to buy any more baggy shirt with yoke patterns, I have a ton of them and there isn’t really that many differences to fit or shape. I have cut out a plain red Sutton in viscose again as I love the feel of it. In fact viscose is my current obsession, it’s such a nice fabric to work with and to wear.

Next up was another french seaming project, this time a Roberts Collection shirt using a thin chambray from The Textile Centre. I bought two lengths each of this fabric in blue and grey (this is the grey) as I like it a lot and it will be cool in hot weather. I don’t think the garments will last long or wear too well due to how thin it is, but it was cheap and I’ll make simple things from it so I don’t waste too much time.
Roberts Collection ShirtRoberts Collection ShitRoberts Collection ShirtI’d forgotten how hard it was to get the back to match up when I made the jumpsuit and had to throw away one half of the back and re-cut as it was totally off and I’d done the entire french seam before I realised. I must remember when I do the second jumpsuit so I don’t have to keep unpicking or chucking out! The neck isn’t great on this, the v is too low for my comfort levels and the interfacing makes it a little stiff even though it was lightweight. It’ll do for under things though.

Finally did a little blocking on my Trace of Silver cardigan, it came out really big for some reason so it’s more a winter wrap around cardigan even though it’s made from cotton.Trace of SilverTrace of Silver

I like the detail on the front band (which is knit on so no going back and picking up) and there are three lots of yarn overs making holes. I had to rip back 13 rows at one point as Cillian Murphy and Tom Hardy were to distracting in Peaky Blinders whilst I was trying to knit this!
Trace of SilverThis is the second project in a row that I’ve discovered a stripe in despite using all yarn from the same dyelot, the other one is the black jumper I’ve not finished yet. It’s really annoying when it happens and there was no way with this that I was going to rip back as it’s top down and I’d have to have taken out most of the cardigan by the time I noticed it.

I don’t seem to be knitting much at the moment, I don’t know why besides I’m kind of bored with all my projects but don’t want to cast on for anything new and my brain can’t cope with anything complicated at all right now so pattern reading is hard work. It’ll get done eventually, it always does.

Finally for this post, my Mother has decided that after having a stroke 2 years ago which has effected her motor skills that she won’t be sewing any more, so she’s been unloading her sewing things on me a bit at a time. I don’t mind as I now have a second sewing machine (same as mine, I love mine so much she bought the same) and spare notions etc but it’s a little sad as she taught me a lot about sewing. I made my prom dress and she didn’t bat an eye when I chose slippy fabric and a pattern that required boning and a fitted bodice in about 6 lined pieces even though neither of us had tried anything like that before. Anyway, the last lot of bits she gave me had a fat quarter in it and she said that she loved the fabric but wouldn’t use it. It wasn’t my taste at all and would have ended up in the bag to go to the primary school which felt like a bit of a waste so I pulled out some Kona scraps that matched well and a zip from my big basket of them and made her a sock sack from it. She probably won’t use it for knitting as she’s not doing much of that either but it’s a useful sized bag.
Sock SackSock Sack

I lined it as I usually do, it’s so simple to do I don’t know why it’s not part of the pattern instructions really. I put the zip on the wrong way which actually turned out to be a fortuitous result as she has more mobility in her left hand so the zip on that side works better for her.

That’ll do for this time, still more to show so back soon with the final things I’ve not blogged about!

Pyjama Time Again

So, the boys grew and the previous summer pjs I made them were either too small or worn out. Jim has a terrible habit of cutting holes in things which is a little frustrating when you’ve made said garment, partly my fault for not keeping track of my scissors too as I know he does it. Anyway, what all that meant was that it was time to pull out Kwik Sew 1557, measure the boys and get going on another round of summer pjs. Luckily I managed to fill the pyjama fabric hole in my stash at Fabric Land in Brighton last summer. They always seem to have a good selection of kids prints in stock, I must remember to check their eye searing website to see if I can buy a few more prints for Jim next summer, I have enough leftovers for trousers for Piggle and will just make him t-shirts to go with them.

So, this years offerings. Piggle’s first:

Kwik Sew 1557Kwik Sew 1557 I found the perfect buttons for this pair in my button box, they’re a little small but I couldn’t not use them!Pyjama Buttons

And the final pair are from the last piece of one of my favourite PRR prints. I had to add a cuff to the trousers as I didn’t have enough fabric, it’s not even a double cuff as there wasn’t enough for that but it works. I couldn’t resist the applique, so quick but effective and cute! The t-shirt is Kwik Sew Sewing for Children which I had already traced in the right size which was handy.KSSFC and KS1557

And Jim’s pyajamas, it’s hard to find prints for older boys but these were approved by him and he loves them all so phew!Kwik Sew 1557 After this first pair I added an inch to all lengths to give him a bit more growing room.Kwik Sew 1557 As I’ve said, Jim has Aspergers Syndrome so he often isn’t great at making jokes that are actually funny. The first morning he was wearing these I walked in the kitchen and was blinded. When I told him they were incredibly bright pyjamas he replied ‘yeah, I’m on fire this morning’!!
KS 1557

I adore this fox print and almost didn’t give it to Jim, I wanted to make something for myself from it. But, in the end I decided that he needed pjs more than I do and sewed these up.

So, that’s that job out of the way for this summer at least, they will need new winter pjs too so I’ll be having a dig through the stash to use up what I have. Anyone seen any neon piping on sale anywhere? I have some plain flannel that would look cool with really bright piping, if I can figure out how to use it as I never have before.

An update on the chemo. I had to stop the fourth round after 10 days. I woke up on day 11 (Jim’s 13th Birthday so not a great day for it) to find that I could hardly walk as my feet hurt so much. The Professor (my Oncologist) is baffled as to why I can’t deal with chemo, it’s both amusing and worrying to see him literally scratch his head as he tries to figure out what to do with me. Out of 4 rounds I have only completely finished one of them, the other 3 the side effects became too much and I had to stop early, between day 11 and 13. He has further reduced the dose, I’m now down to 60% of what I should have for my square meterage, and he won’t be able to reduce it any further as at 50% they are just causing side effects with no actual treatment being offered. If I can’t manage this level I will have to stop. He wonders if I’m missing part of an enzyme that helps the body process the chemicals in the treatment. I’m not totally missing it or I would have died 2-3 day into treatment, but my body just doesn’t seem to be able to deal with what I’m trying to do with it. Chemo is never wonderful and always has side effects but I seem to have drawn a large amount of them, the newest of which is hay fever which I’ve never had before… He said there is no point changing me to the IV protocol as it wouldn’t get rid of the tiredness and upset stomach which are my main issues. They gave me codeine to help with the upset stomach (it can cause constipation). There was no warning about side effects etc and, in my dopey state, I just took one each morning and then spent 4 days wondering why all of a sudden I was spending most of the day in bed and couldn’t put together a sentence, I’d forgotten about my low tolerance to pain killers! I took it later each day until I got to the point I’m at now where I take it at 10pm and sleep through the worst of the side effects. Fun and games but not particularly safe considering I was doing the school run (a 4 mile drive each way on B roads) totally spaced out!

So, it’s a bit up in the air really, he pointed out that only 8-10% of people who have chemo actually get any benefit from it, which seems rather flawed as they rely on it so much for ‘treatment’, as my cancer was found early and not very advanced hopefully what I’ve had will have done enough to mop up any remaining cancer cells. But really, it’s a waiting game, we just carry on and see if it comes back. I’ve read, and can understand, that the most stressful period of cancer is when the treatment is over. You’re no longer actively fighting it, there’s not the frequent appointments where people are looking at you and keeping track of things, you just wait and wonder. I’m not looking forward to that part at all…

Anyway, I’m on day 3 of the 5th cycle (supposed to do 8) and the skin is falling off my feet and hands again, my eyes are goopy, my stomach isn’t happy, I’m having to nap every afternoon and the hay fever is very annoying. I shall keep plodding onwards, there’s really nothing else I can do.

Plenty more makes to show you, I’ve been quite busy. This weekend whilst I was feeling together mentally and not too tired I cut out a load of things so that I can just sew when I’m foggy and tired. Making decisions about fabric and where to add length, size or alter things is hard when your brain isn’t working so I did it whilst it was!

I’m the Tortoise, Life is the Hare

Tired, that’s the single word that defines how I feel. It’s not a well earned tiredness either, it’s just an endless worn out, worn down, impossible to push through weariness that just won’t seem to stop. I’m currently on my fourth round of chemo, but I’ve only managed to actually complete taking all the pills in one round so far, my body just will not cope with it and throws up all kinds of wonderful side effects which reach a level where the Oncology team aren’t happy for me to carry on so I stop, try to recover, and then start again and wait to see what happens this time. I have gone from having only over the counter painkillers in my medicine cabinet to having a range of different things I take to combat the side effects, it’s wearing and annoying and my inner 3 year old is tantruming more than she should, it’s hard to keep the lid on her sometimes but I do try.

So I plod along, picking out the things that absolutely have to be done and trying to do them on time and letting the rest go. Unfortunately that brings it’s stresses as I’m having to let things go that I want to do and live with a house that is never as tidy or clean as I want it to be (and trust me, my levels of expectation and comfort aren’t majorly high in those areas). My sister is still staying with me, helping me out, and it is reassuring to have someone else around, something I’ve never felt I needed the whole time I have been a single parent pre-cancer. I resent that I need help, I don’t want to need it or want it, I want to go back to being the independent do it all myself get out of my way woman I was before all this. I aim to get back to being her, but at the moment it’s hard to imagine staying awake all day let alone kicking any asses…

So, I have been sewing and knitting when I can, I manage a few hours a couple of times a week and I’m getting through my list, but of course for everything I sew I add three more wants to the list. I also almost caught up to having sewn as much fabric as I’ve bought this year, my goal is always to try and sew a bit more than I’ve bought but I can live with breaking even in a year. As soon as I got within 5 metres of evening out I went and bought more, The Textile Centre on Ebay is my weakness, I have things in my basket there at the moment and only the fact that it’s Jim’s 13th Birthday next week is stopping me from pressing the buy button!

Speaking of Jim, two weeks before the Easter holiday he got appendicitis, it took 3 days to get a proper diagnosis and we spent 12 hours in the A&E waiting for test results etc before being admitted. He was operated on during the Jr Drs strike so it was interesting to watch two Consultants with very different approaches discuss how to deal with a young patient with Aspergers Syndrome. They did a great job and he’s fine and back at school finally after going right from 2 weeks off post-op to 2 weeks Easter holidays! Sitting in uncomfortable chairs and sleeping on a horrible chair bed thing for 5 days and nights did me no good at all really but there you go, that’s parenthood for you, it doesn’t stop for your stuff, you just have to work that around it!

Right, so, I finished a cardigan but I need to block it a bit before taking pictures of it. Still have plenty of projects on the needles, I seem to cast on 2 for every one I cast off…

Sewing wise I’ve been sticking to easy things, I made a Blueprints for Sewing Cabin Dress with some £2.40 a metre thin denim from The Textile Centre to try out the pattern before using the fabric I really want to.Cabin DressCabin DressCabin DressI added 3″ to the length of this dress and I think I’ll add another inch next time as it’s still a bit shorter than I like. There are some great details on this that I love; the pockets are great, I messed up the first one but figured out the directions when I did the second one, it looks fine from the outside but the inside is a total mess! The seams are finished with bias binding which I made from self fabric, turns out that wasn’t such a good idea….

Cabin Dress FrayingFirst wash and they have frayed on every single edge, I’m going to have to flip them up again and stitch it down with some liberal fray check being applied along the way. To be honest, although I think it’s a nice design element, I can’t see myself doing the bias binding thing on anything but the neckline in the future, I’ll just flip a small double hem and call it done.

I’m still not ready to use the chosen fabric for this as I want to lower the bust dart. It looks fine even though it’s about 4″ too high, but I want to see if I can get it to hit just right. I really like this pattern and want to keep it as part of my pattern ‘stable’ so a little bit of work on it will be worth it. I have fabric chosen for the next try and instructions on dropping a dart down, I just need the energy to put it all together. I’m not doing a FBA because the dress fits how I want it to fit me, I don’t like the way a FBA adds more fabric and width to the rest of the garment, I don’t need it there and I am trying to stop making baggy sacks, I only need the dart to point in the right place. Hopefully I can get it right and make a few summer dresses from this pattern before we actually get to summer…

I loved the denim so much (it was sold so cheaply as they had found flaws in some of it, but I managed to buy 8m in total with no flaws…) that I made another Roberts Collection dress from it. I went with a size 6 and shortened it a few inches and it’s just right, plus a nice weight for summer too.
Roberts Collection Dress

I used the last two denim buttons on it too, I love the ease of hammering these on, I can see more of them in my future!

Roberts Dress Button

Whilst in the hospital with Jim I finished off my Meringue Cowl. The yarn is Yarntopia Tresures Bamboo in Moonlight, I used 3mm needles to get a gauge I was happy with and did as many repeats as I could to use up the yarn so it’s between a shoulder covering thing and a cowl, but so soft and pretty.

Meringue CowlMeringue Cowl

A perfect soothing easy project for a tired body and brain.

I have lots more to show you but I want to get something done today before lunch and then falling back into bed for a few hours. I will endeavour not to leave it so long between posts, but I’m finallywakingup on Twitter and Instagram should you want to keep tabs on me between posts and the brevity of those places is much easier on my brain than writing long posts!

I ain’t in the best shape that I’ve ever been in…*

So, chemo ‘eh? Not so much with the fun…. I was given the highest dose for my square meterage (my Oncologist’s party trick seems to be working out your square meterage from your height and weight in his head) and my body did not react well to it. The Oncologist seemed surprised yesterday at all the side effects I’ve had. It started with the most horrible tiredness, it comes over me completely and makes me feel like I have a weight on my shoulders. You can set your clock by it to, 3pm and I’m done in. The rest of the time when I’m fit for more than napping it leaves me with half my brain working. I lost the ability to comprehend what I was reading, last week I showed up to an appointment at the hospital on time but two weeks early and I’m never sure what day of the week it is or what I’m supposed to be remembering, just the knowledge that I know I’m forgetting things, it’s incredibly frustrating. I actually stopped taking the first course of pills 2.5 days early as I had pain in my hands and feet, my finger tips hurt when I tried to do anything at all with my hands, even knitting, which, as you can imagine really pissed me off, don’t take my stress relief away from me! Then the balls of my feet started to feel like I’d been wearing very high heels for several days in a row, even in my slippers it hurt to walk about. Added to that was a bad upset stomach (I can’t spell and don’t really like the d word so we’ll go with the more refined upset stomach shall we?), so bad that they gave me a second week off between courses to recover and try to get things working properly as they should. I’ve gone off food, which isn’t like me at all, I don’t feel nauseous, I just can’t ever think of what I want to eat, everything just seems meh to me, if I didn’t have to feed the boys I’d be living on toast and instant noodles as they’re easy and I can generally face eating them. A few days ago the skin started to peel off my hands too, lovely… The constant drippy nose is also all kinds of wonderful.

So, I go to the Oncology unit tomorrow to pick up a lowered dose for the second course which I will start on Saturday. I’ve had to accept that napping is the norm (I used to love naps when they were a treat, now they’re necessary it’s annoying) and have applied to extend the interruption to my PhD until the start of the next academic year, that was a very dark depressing day but if I can’t read a hospital appointment letter and understand it how will I ever manage with academic articles and books? I’m also losing my words so academic writing is out the window. We’ll see if my body can get to grips better with things with the rest of the 7 courses I have to take.

I am managing to do some sewing a few days a week and I’m knitting on and off during each day so I will show you what I’ve finished off since I was last here.

Finally a picture of the cardigan I finished in January now that it’s been blocked a bit. The pattern is called Passing Showers and I used some DK cotton in Pomegranate from the stash.

Passing ShowersPassing Showers
It’s a darker red than it looks like, can’t ever get that colour to photograph well. It came out shorter and smaller than I had hoped so I’m not sure it will get much wear, we’ll see when the weather gets warmer, I do like a red cardigan.

I also finished up my Sunseeker shawl, I didn’t increase to the full number of stitches as I had less yarn, but it still came out pretty huge and I’m happy with the way it’s blocked out. I used a bamboo cotton mix from Yarntopia Treasures in the colourway Mocha Latte.SunwalkerSunwalkerSunwalker

I had a massive clear out of clothes that were looking worn or not being worn. Quite a few hand-made things are on their way to the charity shop as I finally admitted to myself that I’m not ever going to wear them so there’s no point storing them. I cleared out the hand knits too and ended up with this huge pile which is bagged to go to new homes soon. Feb 2016(just seen one in there that I’m going to rescue from the bag as I’m apparently not as done with it as I thought!)
I have realised that I’m what they call a process knitter, I like making things, but I don’t always make what I like to wear, that’s something I am determined to work on and to think about how useful things will be before I cast on or cut fabric. I also decided that as I have the time at the moment I will try to fill out my hand-made wardrobe (so much for sewing less!) and try to get back, as close as I can, to making most of my clothing. I don’t sew underwear or jeans as they’re easily bought and I don’t ever feel it’s worth the time, but everything else is fair game. My mental plan is to find a solid stable of patterns that are ‘me’ and work with my lifestyle and to create a more cohesive ‘wardrobe’, if you will, using them. I’m hoping for around 10-15 patterns that offer different ways of styling them, different lengths, finishes etc. and that I know I like to wear. I tend to make tons of things and a lot of them don’t ever get worn. I have enjoyed making dresses, but fitted bodices just piss me off to wear and I’m really not all that girly, nor do I go anywhere that requires a nice frock, so it’s a waste of fabric and time to keep making them. What I want are comfortable and easy to wear clothes that go together, rather than only having a few bits that match and thus only get worn with each other. This will mean making more basics and using plainer fabrics rather than the eye searing prints I usually am drawn to. I’ll see how it goes and keep you updated.

A pattern that is most definitely already part of my ‘stable’ is the Montlake Tee, it fits how I like my t-shirts to fit and I don’t have to add any length to it. There are several sleeve lengths to mix things up and I can add different neckbands to mix it up a little. I’ve made 6 of them so far, the first stripy one was too big, it’s more a tunic, which is fine and I’ll still wear it, but I went down a size for all the rest and they’re great. There’s a mix of long, 3/4 and elbow length sleeves and I’ll make a few more short-sleeved ones when the weather calls for them. The 3/4 length sleeve actually turns out to be full length on me so I’ve made my own marks on the pattern for my length 3/4 length sleeves, I didn’t think I had particularly short arms!
Montlake TeeMontlake TeeMontlake TeeMontlake TeeMontlake TeeMontlake Tee
The black and grey stripe is from Boyes, you’ve seen it before and you’ll see it again as I bought loads of it as it’s got lovely drape. The dots are vintage from the local sale last year. The yellow plain is from an online acquaintance’s stash clearance, the grey is from Textile Warehouse (again I bought tons of it) and I’m annoyed that even though I pinned the stripes of the ribbing before cutting it still went wonky on the front. The blue stripe and green bird prints are both from Fabricland in Brighton, bought 4 years apart. Most of these fabrics have been hanging around in my stash waiting for just the right t-shirt pattern to come along so now I finally get to wear them!

I made another Betheua top, but totally messed it up and didn’t realise until the end. I managed to sew the back piece on upside down (chemo brain). It’s wearable and the fabrics are actually pretty cheap so won’t wash well anyway so it’s not too much of a loss.Bethioua Raglan

I also made another Ilsley skirt using some mock suede (micro suede?) that’s been in my stash forever and day. I took an inch off the length and added less width to this one so the fit is better on me. I also added an ad lib lining as it’s a very sticky fabric and it’s too short to wear a slip under. These photos are awful, black skirt in low light room, sorry…
Ilsley SkirtIlsley SkirtIlsley Skirt

And finally I made a pair of Roberts Collection dungarees. I hummed and hawed for ages about which size to make and finally decided to go with the 6, a size smaller than the jumpsuit. The denim is from Textile Warehouse on Ebay, I bought 5 metres of it as it was about £4.20 a metre. There’s no stretch in it but I love the vintagy colour of it and I’m glad I stocked up. I used demin hammer on buttons on it, the buttonholes were actually the hardest part for me, I made 7 before I got 4 that I could live with, it usually doesn’t take me that many goes. This is an awful shot of me, I think you can tell that I was bored with trying to get a good photo by the time I took this one!
Roberts Collection Dungarees
I thought they looked better on me than this picture suggests, but they’re comfortable and work with the stoma so I’m going to pretend that I look fabulous in them and just not look in mirrors while I’ve got them on! I have plans for more from the Roberts pattern before I put it away.

And that’s it, I have fabric out and ready for quite a few more things, I’m hoping to have the brain power and energy to cut something out soon. Sorry for the big dump of things, took me a while to find the energy to type this and the words at the same time!

*Ani DiFranco lyrics, as are the title of the blog. The next line of this song is ‘but I know where I’m going, and it ain’t where I’ve been’, it was my New Year’s mantra to try and psych myself up to get through the cancer treatment…

Top, Blanket, Jumpsuit (aka Titles are Hard)

The post-surgery swelling is going down, I am judging it’s progress by how much of the faces I can see of my sheep slippers whilst looking down, highly scientific. However, I’m still hunting around for comfortable things to wear that don’t make me feel horrid (self confidence is not at an all time high at present).

I liked the Bethioua top so much that I made a second one right away, this time using contrast fabrics. The knit I bought from The Textile Centre on Ebay in January (they have become my main fabric source at the moment, I place another order for 12 metres yesterday…), as I only did the front and back pieces from it I have enough for another garment.

Bethioua Raglan Top 2016/4Bethioua Raglan Top Back The black jersey has been in my stash forever, I think it came from my US co-op days and I still have a few yards left of it even though I’ve used it for at least 4 or 5 things, I miss the days of $2 to £1 exchange rates and surface shipping…

Anyway, I love this top, when I see it my brain says ‘I want to be, a tree’ (is that a quote from something?) and having a drama degree I am qualified to wear a tree shirt, although not for much else… I am definitely going down a size in this pattern next time I make it (I have fabric ready for another version). It just feels too big on me even though I’m going by the size the pattern says I need. This is actually a problem I’m having with a lot of patterns at the moment, I’m making sure I check the body measurements and the amount of ease and things are still coming out too big, it’s weird as usually it goes the other way…

Anyway, I promised some shots of me actually wearing things that I’ve made so this is the first Bethioua top with the Ilsay skirt that I showed you last time. Headless shot against a door, not the hight of fashion photography, I need to find my camera with it’s little tripod thingy and find a better place for photos.
Bethioua Top with Ilsay SkirtThey’re not bad, but just a bit too baggy and long, the skirt needs an inch off it I think, to me it looks like I’m a toddler wearing my big sister’s clothes, not a great look for an adult… However, it was comfortable and wasn’t jogging bottoms so I’ll take it for now.

I’ve been digging out things that don’t see the light very often and dragged out the Schoolhouse Tunic Dress that I made way back in October 2012.
School House Tunic/DressSchoolhouse Dress Long cardi, high boots, leggings and a long sleeve t-shirt under it have me following the fashion trend of my teen years that my Mother referred to as ‘Russian Peasant’. It’s a comfy dress though so I’m glad that it’s getting worn, I have a shirt version cut out waiting that would go well with the Ilsay skirt.

Confirming once again to me that Roo finds all the cool patterns I am once again copying her and have cast on for a Vivid Blanket.
1st Vivid Blanket Square As you can see I’ve made great progress on it… I’m using yarn from the stash, the middle is a bamboo cotton SMC yarn and the outer is black cotton that I made something from and then ripped out probably about 2009, nice to see it doing something rather than taking up space. This isn’t blocked yet so the pattern isn’t that clear on it. Obviously this is a long term project, but it will be fun to see it come together. No idea how big it will be, I will just keep going until I run out of one or other of the yarns. The first few rows of these squares are like playing pick up sticks with string attached, a little frustrating, but once you get past them it’s easy going and I’m excited to see some blocks together, I think it’s going to look good.

Finally, I made a jumpsuit from the Roberts Collection by Marilla Walker. My fabric is a batik/tie dye cord that I’ve had in the stash for at least 10 years having bought it from someone clearing out things they didn’t want in their stash. I figured it having sat there all that time if I wasn’t happy with the result it wasn’t a great loss. I wasn’t convinced that the jumpsuit is a good look for me, to be honest I’m still not, especially after Piggle asked me if I was wearing my pyjamas on the school run and then his Head Teacher commenting on the jumpsuit during a meeting I had with him… My sister says it’s slimming which makes me think that I must be a lot bigger in reality than in my head as I kind of see Weeble when I look at this picture…
Roberts Collection Jumpsuit 2016/5 I wore it with my over-used long black cardi, you’d think I didn’t knit the amount I wear it and the grey version I have. Again, I think it’s a bit too big even though I made the size for my measurements. I have fabric for a summery version and I think I will go down a size for that, especially as it’s linen and will stretch a bit. I’m not great at getting out of these yet, I managed to pin my arms to my sides the first time I attempted it which was a little panic inducing until I managed to shrug it back on. I want to try the dungarees and the shirt from this pattern, I have fabric out for both, but I think I’ll make a few other things first, I seem to have piles and piles of fabric and patterns at the moment but not the energy or the time.

In cancer news, I took the first chemo tablets this morning. I’m really not happy about doing this part of the treatment but it needs to be done so I kind of have to shut up and get on with it. I’m the type of person who doesn’t take paracetamol until it’s almost a migraine and who believes in listening to what the body needs, so basically taking poison and then more drugs to fight the reaction to the poison isn’t something I’m very comfortable with. Apparently the side effects can build over time, or I could just sail through and not have any major side effects, who knows. The fact that it comes with a booklet with charts for judging how bad the symptoms are and whether you need to get your ass to A&E immediately doesn’t comfort me much though. 8 three week cycles to get through.

I did have some good news following another undignified X-ray with the soothing name ‘contrast enema’. The physical result of the test was that I got to wear a grown up nappy for the rest of the day but the medical result was that the internal wound or ‘join’ has healed well and there is no leaking. What this means is that once I am done with the chemo and my system recovers enough I will be able to have another operation to reverse the stoma. Obviously this is great news, except for the bit where I have to do chemo and then have another operation, but one step at a time.

Going to try to finish the last 2 charts of my Sunseeker shawl this weekend if I can and maybe sew something. Have a good weekend.

Working on the Stoma Fashion

After 6 weeks of pyajams or jogging bottoms I have been getting a bit fed up with my clothing options. I had a dig through my wardrobe and found a few dresses that will work with the stoma bag and the still very swollen stomach but I still need more options, and things that make me feel more like ‘me’. I can’t wear jeans at the moment, none of them fit or hit me in the right place and, besides jogging bottoms, I can’t think of any other trousers that would work right now. Sewing trousers that will only fit for a short time isn’t going to happen either as it’s a waste of time and fabric, so skirts and dresses it will be until I can fit into other things.

Luckily I went from ‘no idea what to make’ to ‘here’s a large stack of fabric for the 20 things I want to make right now’ so I have ideas, fabric, patterns and options a plenty in my sewing room.

I started off with the Roberts Collection pinafore dress. I checked and double checked the measurements before cutting out the largest size. After sewing most of it together I checked the fit…

Roberts Dress Before Alternations

(bad hair, bad expression, dirty mirror, sorry Internet)

A strong wind would have had this dress acting as a sail, plus you could see straight through down both sides to the floor, not a good look. I took it apart and cut an inch off each side and the put it all back together again and came up with a much better fit.

Roberts Collection Dress 2016/1Roberts Collection DressRoberts Collection Dress
I will try and get some shots of me wearing these things as I want to be more honest about what and how things fit rather than going for the standard dressform shots.

Other changes I made were to take 2 inches off the length (apparently I’m really short as this dress is supposed to hit at the knee and I had to remove that length and do a 1″ hem to get it there) and to leave off the button placket. I didn’t really get the placket, and the fact that the drawing showing you how to do it is backwards really didn’t help either. It doesn’t add much space for an opening, the piece seemed the wrong length and I will pull the dress on and off over my head anyway so I didn’t need it. If I make the trouser version I will have to figure it out.

I used two of my favourite buttons that have been waiting for the right project.

Roberts Collection Dress

I can’t remember where this black denim came from, it’s been there a while as there is a slight fade along the fold line. It’s got a nice bit of stretch to it and I’ve enough left to make something else so it was obviously cheap wherever it came from!

Next up was another Marilla Walker pattern, this time the free Ilsley skirt. The pattern says the largest size is for a 36″ waist so I cut the pieces an inch away from the fold to give my largeness some room. Turns out that it was another one with lots and lots of ease and I didn’t need quite that much room, if I use this pattern again I’ll add an inch to the front and back rather than 2. The other change I made was to make the waistband out of ribbing so that it doesn’t rub. I should have cut the ribbing pieces shorter as they didn’t need to stretch very much, but the finished item is a very wearable muslin, in fact I have it on right now!
Ilsley Skirt 2016/2Ilsley Skirt

I used the thick denim I’ve been sewing with for about 10 years now, I still have enough left probably for a bag, I can’t even count the number of projects I’ve used it for!

The final sewing project is a sweatshirt using the Bethioua Raglan Shirt pattern. I wanted a nice loose comfortable t-shirt/sweatshirt pattern and contemplated another raglan pattern that is popular but decided that I needed a bit more interest in my sewing having made hundreds of Kwik Sew raglans over the years.

Bethioua Raglan Shirt 2016/3Bethioua Raglan Shirt

This isn’t a great picture of the back, but the sleeve pieces meet in the middle and the back piece is arched. I sewed all but the darts and hem on my overlocker which I’ve not done in a really long time. Although the neckline looks, and is, wide, it still covers the bra strapsI’ve got a second one of these cut and in progress already. The fabric is from Remnant Warehouse on Ebay last week, they describe it as a sports knit but it’s really a loose knit french terry. I bought the grey version as well for a baggy cardigan. The only thing I don’t like about this pattern is the way the sleeves for the larger sizes are laid out. I printed about 8 pages I didn’t need and could only cut a single size sleeve from that print run. I prefer patterns where I can make more than one size after cutting out the pattern depending on the fabric and the fit I want but if I want a smaller size of this I will have to figure out which pages the sleeve is on so I can just print those, it’s a little annoying.

And the knitting! I started the year with a finish on January 1st. This is Easy by Martina Behm and it was a gift, for a change!

EasyEasy

I wanted to make some really pretty lace for the recipient but my brain was just not up to it at all so I relied on the very soft bamboo tencel mix from Yarntopia Treasures in the colourway Visionary instead. The back and forth garter stitch was just what my brain needed whilst recuperating and it was well received so I’m happy with it. I think I might make myself one at some point.

In my new year finish up I have also completed a short sleeved cardigan, but I’m not hugely pleased with it and it needs a block which I’ve been putting off due to my feelings for it. I now have 7 projects on the needles, one of those is new as I needed something simple to knit on whilst watching tv (although I messed up a YO due to being preoccupied with Cillian Murphy and Tom Hardy in Peaky Blinders and had to rip back 18 rows…) but there is a wide variety of stuff to be working on and yesterday I knit on four different things over the course of the day!

The first thing I worked on yesterday became a FO, my first pair of socks for the year using the pattern RPM which is in Knitty.

RPM Socks
The yarn is Maizy in Neptune, I think these are actually my first pair of blue socks in all the years I’ve been making them. They’re very comfortable, I wore them the rest of the day after taking the picture. I used the round toe option for a change and it was quick and looks good I think.

So, all caught up for now excepting the unblocked cardigan. Back to the machines and the knitting I go!