Summer Sewing (what do you mean I’m late?)

Ages ago (and I mean ages, some of these projects date from a plan I made a year ago) I sorted out a stack of things I wanted to make and cut them all out ready to go. Then they sat there, and they taunted me and made me feel guilty every time I made something that wasn’t on the cut out pile. I worked my way through it but it seemed to linger on and on. I made a deal with myself recently that I’d make one garment from the pile and then do a row of the quilt that I want to finish and I did that, twice, then found some sewing motivation from somewhere and finally got those projects out of the way this week.

Before that happened I made my ‘school bag’ for the year. This was on my list of things to make so it was an excusable project, although as I’m not planning to return to University until after Christmas and I’m probably not going to travel to campus all that much this year it wasn’t really a necessary make except for mentally and emotionally beginning to prepare to re-enter my life post-treatment.

This is another Perfect Quilted Tote by Elizabeth Hartman, I made the larger size two years ago and this time around it’s the tall tote’s turn.
Perfect Quilted TotePerfect Quilted Tote
When I’m digging through the scraps basket to do the patchwork panels I’m always thinking ‘grown up prints Anna’ and then my brain is all ‘bears!!! bees!! bunnies!!! foxes!!!’ and I end up with a bag that probably reflects my personality better but isn’t really the grown up image I’d like to put across, oh well…

This is a great pattern, it has a lovely finish and goes together really easily. The pocket part is one of those where you can’t really see what’s happening until it’s done, it’s a leap of faith, but if you do as you’re told without question you end up with this great pocket panel inside.
Perfect Quilted TotePerfect Quilted Tote

I bought the grey fabric specifically for a bag from the closing down sale at my local quilt shop, all the rest of the fabrics were from my stash and big basket of scraps. I love this bag and can’t wait to use it. In case you’re wondering about size it’s big enough to hold a MacBook Air with ease along with your pencil-case, diary and a book or two, probably not big enough to carry your lunch unless you’re not taking your laptop.

Next up was the final Baseball Skirt from the trio I decided to make. This uses up the last of the dark grey fabric I used for my Demi Pants and should be useful I hope.

Not a great photo but it’s a grey skirt on a grey dressform!

I had been putting off making the Schoolhouse Tunic I cut out. I wasn’t sure of the style any more or of the fabric which I bought at Ditto, it must have been on sale because I usually find them too expensive for my budget. I also thought I’d have to do french seams but it turned out that the fabric was thicker than I thought so I could overlock the edges instead which made this a much easier project, french seams on gathered sleeves is doable but a pain.

Schoolhouse TunicSchoolhouse Tunic

It’s hanging really awkwardly on the dressform, you can tell I’m not too certain about it as I didn’t bother to get it to lie straight…  It went together nicely and doesn’t look too bad, but I’m still unsure about the shape and the pink, we’ll see how much it gets worn. I did my usual extending the bodice by two inches in length, if you’re larger chested and don’t do this it gets rather boobalicious with the front slit.

I thought that as I’d now done two projects off the list I should stop and work on the quilt, but then I abandoned my plan (which happens far too regularly in my sewing room) and got stuck into the next project.

I bought the fabric for this one from The Textile Centre on Ebay ages ago, in one of my first orders from them I think. It was described as a textured viscose. I knew in my head what I wanted to make from it and went online searching, finding the Blueprints for Sewing Cabin Dress pattern. I then proceeded to make a test denim version (the one where the edges frayed and I put one of the pockets in wrongly) and then the bright leopard shirt where I moved the bust dart. All ready now with a fully tested and altered pattern I cut out the ‘real’ dress and proceeded to let it sit there for six months until it’s too cold to wear with sandals. Luckily it’s the kind of garment that can be worn with leggings, boots, shawl and a big cardigan so I will get some use out of it. I think I also paused before making this as I wanted it to be like I’d imagined and I was worried, in the back of my mind, that I’d be disappointed. Luckily this was not the case and I’m really pleased with how it came out!

Cabin DressCabin Dress

I added four inches to the length of the dress so it hits right above the knee and I used pre-made bias binding for all the edges.

I find the pockets of this pattern a little daunting. I don’t know why as the instructions are clear and it’s not actually that hard once you get going, it just seems like a big deal and as it’s the first step in the process it also contributed to putting me off starting. They came out well though and I managed to get them both right this time!

Cabin Dress Pocket

So all in all it’s a winner of a dress and I can’t wait to wear it. Of course now it’s done my brain is cruising the stash trying to find more fabric to make other versions, always the way…

And then there was one. One final project on the cut out and waiting pile and another one that I was putting off, this time because it was from a really slippy viscose and definitely needed french seams. This was the second version of the Sutton Blouse pattern, again in a plain fabric to balance out the fact that my tops are mainly prints. I wear the navy version of this all the time and it’s really flattering and comfortable so I’m sure this red version (fabric from The Textile Centre) will be worn a lot too.

As an aside, my brain must have been wandering when I cut the Sutton and the Schoolhouse Tunic as with both of them the front should be cut in two pieces and I’d cut it on the fold…
The colour is all wrong as I took the pictures about 5pm at night when I finished sewing it, it’s a nice clear bright red which a camera can’t seem to pick up no matter what time of day you take the picture.

Although this is a really flowy fabric it has a sort of peach skin feel to it which meant that it wasn’t as much of a bear to work with as I’d feared. The one thing I didn’t like on the first version was the side slits. The pattern calls for all french seams until the side seams which you’re supposed to overlock. I didn’t want to do that so I bodged a french seam/side slit method on the first version which isn’t too great and involved lots of fray check. This time around I frankly couldn’t be bothered to deal with the whole thing and knowing how loose this shirt is I did away with the side slits completely and sewed the entire side seam. I should mention that this was made possible by the fact that I lengthened the front piece to match the back as I’m not a fan of long/short hemlines.

So, now it’s done, the pile is gone, the list is crossed off and I don’t have to feel guilty when I’m working on something new and those projects are staring at me. My only sewing plan at the moment is to do the winter pyjamas as the weather has turned here and then to finish the quilt (I’m 3/4 of the way through the top so not too much left). Then I will pick and choose off the pile of stuff I have out and the pile of patterns I have printed. There are the Merchant and Mills patterns, trousers, dresses, two cases and quite a few tops including some new Stylearc patterns I bought in their recent sale.

But finally I will leave you with the Paris Toujours shawl all done and dusted, or as I’m mentally calling it the Prison Break Forever shawl (or perhaps the Wentworth Miller Forever shawl) as it was primarily knit whilst mainlining the show. I’m about 5 episodes before the end now, I know how it finishes as you can’t really avoid all spoilers about a show that old but I’m excited that I got into it right at the perfect time with WM being in other shows I watch (which is why I started watching Prison Break, I love him in The Flash so looked at what else he’d been in) and also with them reviving the show for a short series, although it’ll be next year before we see it over here I guess. Anyway, I obsessively knit this very easy repetitive pattern whilst obsessively following Michael Schofield’s exploits and here is the hard to photograph black shawl.
Paris ToujoursParis ToujoursParis Toujours
I used Drops Safran for this, the garter section is a bit shorter than called for but I didn’t want to start a new ball just for the sake of half an inch of knitting so I cast off. I love this yarn, it is replacing my beloved discontinued Rowan 4ply cotton as it’s soft and matt (mercerised cotton has it’s place but sometimes you want a matt shade that’s not as stiff), plus it’s incredibly reasonably priced.

If you look at my Flickr of late you will see that I went on a bit of a Drops spree last week. I found two sites that had it really cheaply (Cotton Pod for the Drops Loves You 7, The Purple Sheep no longer has the sale on I don’t think). I stocked up on Drops Loves You 7 which I’ve not used before but took the risk and am happy to report is a soft cotton and not like dishcloth cotton, lots of Safran and some more Paris. We’re talking 70p, 75p and 80p a ball here and free postage from one shop, I got 10 projects worth for about £5 a project including the postage. When I was diagnosed with cancer I remember looking at fabric and yarn online and thinking that I probably shouldn’t buy any more because I didn’t want to leave someone to sort out getting rid of my stashes should the worst happen, a sobering thought, along with reasoning that it was better to leave my kids money rather than yarn and fabric should I not be around… Since then I’ve changed my attitude and I see buying yarn and fabric as more of a fuck you to cancer. Of course I’m going to be around to use it and wear it and enjoy working with it all so there’s no reason to stop buying as I have done in the past (generally when things are on sale at silly prices in large amounts). I’m not SABLE yet!

Right, going to get on with the first pair of winter pjs now that I cut out last night. The sewing mojo quit there for a little while but it seems to be back now so best ride the wave while I can!

ETA – opps, totally forgot a project! I finished this a while back and it hasn’t made the blog until now. This is an Almada dressing gown made using a matt satin that was on sale from The Textile Centre.

This was quite an easy make, the cutting out of big pieces from slippy fabric being the hardest part really. I added a hanging loop at the back as the hook on my bedroom door is quite vicious and would put a hold in this fabric or it’d just slip off the hook all the time and be annoying.

I have some other fabric to make a second version, it’s really thin though and definitely a summer cover up rather than a dressing gown so it might take a while to get made. And that’s defintely all I’ve made recently, over and out!

More Knitting Than Sewing

You do one thing for ages and ages and then suddenly you change what you’re doing and something else becomes the habit or obsession of that period. For about 2/3 of the chemo I read and read and read, which meant that only plain knitting that could be done without looking at what was happening. Then, probably with the Olympics when I swapped the books for the tv, I suddenly began knitting all the time and watching tv programmes. So, a lot fewer books have been read the last two months or so, but a lot of tv has been consumed and thus, I have knits to show you!

Courtesy of the Olympics I finished off my second Vitamin D cardigan. I used the same yarn, Freedom Gorgeous, as the first version as I love the drape of the bamboo/acrylic mix. I wear this cardigan all the time in the blue so I’m hoping to get some use from this one, plus introduce a new colour into my wardrobe as I’m not much of a purple person.

VitaminDVitamin D

This is probably the only pattern I don’t mind knitting short rows on as they make sense and you can put them down and pick them up. The construction of this has you do the yoke, then the sleeves and then finish the rest, I was at half of the first sleeve when the Olympics started and cast off near the end so that was good progress! I had less yarn than last time and I thought I had accounted for that by shortening the sleeves a bit, but it seems that I didn’t leave enough or my gauge was different this time as I only managed to pick up, knit a row and then cast off around the front edges at the end rather than knitting the required amount of rows. No one will notice I’m sure as it’s neatly finished and looks fine, but it was a little puzzling! There is also a single yo missing on one of the fronts as obviously an exciting event was occurring when I was supposed to be putting it in, but I was far enough along not to want to go back and fix it!

Next up is the very popular Campside shawl. This was one that I cast on, put down and then suddenly picked up again and wouldn’t stop on until it was done. I think I was watching Arrow and the first season of The Flash when I knit this. I enjoyed Arrow so much that when I finished the 4 series available online I started from the beginning again until series 5 was out on DVD!

Campside ShawlCampside Shawl

This was an easy knit and I used a 4 ply cotton rather than a DK to make it a little lighter. The yarn is Drops Safran which is a lovely soft cotton, I’m using it for another shawl at the moment and will definitely buy more for future 4 ply patterns.

Although I like the shawl there is something about the pattern design that bothers me. I don’t know if it was avoidable or not, but when you move from one spacing of yos to the next you end up with some right under others rather than spaced nicely. It just offends my eyes when I see it for some reason. Hopefully I will forget about it with time and wear it without being annoyed about it! I checked lots of pictures on Ravelry to make sure I wasn’t going wrong with my counting, but sure enough every version has the holes like that.

Next up was my second Simple Tee by Churchmouse Yarns. I cast this on right after finishing the tunic version using the same yarn, Drops Belle, and then it sat until Series 5 of Arrow and Series 2 of The Flash came out during which I finished it off!

Simple TeeSimple Tee

This jumper is exactly what I wanted it to be, plain and navy blue, easy to throw on over things and a simple contrast to my brightly coloured shirts and t-shirts. I love the yarn and I love the jumper pattern. I’m half considering buying more of the yarn in another colour for a third version in the future!

Finally, we have the first of the Prison Break knits. I’ve just started series 4 (yes, I know I’m 10 years behind the times but it took The Flash to make me fall for Wentworth Miller!) and have been working on a few different things whilst watching it, at the moment another huge simple shawl has really stuck and I’m powering through it. I knit these Dashing Mits in two sittings really, they’re very easy. I had to go down several needle sizes and I cut the length of the cuff from 24 to 9 rows as I didn’t want them to go right up my arms (and wouldn’t have had enough yarn anyway).
Dashing MitsDashing Mits

This yarn is Drops Paris (I am loving Drops yarn at the moment in case you can’t tell!). I have another 2 pairs of fingerless mits planned as it gets chilly in the house during the day but I need my fingers to type!

So, that’s that for now. There is still plenty on the needles as I’m casting on about as fast as I finish, although I am trying to get the older projects done and I really need to work on the jumper I started for Jim as he’ll grow out of it this winter if I don’t hurry. Shawls still seem to be the order of the day, I have two on the needles right now and plenty more planned. Maybe I’m starting to feel the chill as the weather changes!

I have some sewing to show you too at some point, although I’ve slowed right down on that too as I’ve been starting to relocate my sewing room and listing tons of things in my Etsy shop so that I can fit into the smaller space I’m going into. I have tons of sewing projects planned, but I need to start working on my PhD again really so I can get back into it before I return after Christmas so progress might be slow. It’s another change and I know my sewing mojo ebbs and flows, at the moment I’m just interested in other ways of making things but the sewing enthusiasm will come back in time, it always does.

Oh, and I saw the surgeon last week, she answered some questions I’d been pondering and was very nice to me when I blubbed on her (it’s easier to think about cancer than to talk about cancer I find). I have a date for my stoma reversal of 8th November. There is a small chance that it could be earlier but I have a CT scan to go to at the end of October so it probably won’t move, plus they need to make sure my platelets are playing along with it all and everything else in the blood work has stabilised after the chemo. I can’t wait to have this done, I accept that the stoma was necessary and could have been a life saver as it allowed everything else time to heal. It was also a sanity saver during chemo as having to sit on the toilet rather than just getting up every few hours in the night to empty the bag would have driven me to the brink. However, my body is changing shape now I’m doing a bit of exercise again and have stopped eating everything in sight like I was at the end of the chemo and things within the stoma have also moved about meaning that I’ve had a horrid couple of months as I talked about earlier where it’s been horrid and leaky. I’m grateful I had it but I’m ready to be done with it now for sure!

Hexy MF

This quilt is almost four years in the making. I first blogged about it in December 2012 when I started it and the next mentions weren’t for about 2 years when in April 2014 I finally finished all the flowers and started to sew them together. I think I’ve mentioned before my ‘things to get done before I go back to University’ list, and this was right up the top as I was fed up with it sitting around. I finished joining all the flowers together probably last year sometime and then it sat again, pinned to the backing fabric, just waiting for me to appliqué it down.

So, in all its glory, one completed Hexy MF.
Hexy MF QuiltHexy MF Quilt

That’s my new bed that I bought after the first few chemo courses as I was spending a lot of time lying down and my old bed had a habit of randomly throwing the slats out of the bottom which was rather too exciting. This one is much more comfortable and less prone to collapse!

I didn’t do the vines the pattern called for at the top and bottom as I wasn’t fond of them, I just (sort of) evenly placed the extra flowers along the top and bottom and called it done.

The background colour came from my local quilting shop, it was a totally random purchase and I guessed at the colour to match the backing fabric and totally nailed it somehow! The flowers are made from some of a stack of polka dot fqs I bought way back in my early quilting days and then a collection of flower and bird prints. I think there are three or four prints in there that don’t have birds on them, but all the rest do, so it’s another of my themed quilts!

I adore the backing fabric of this quilt and I really don’t think there is a better match in the world for the quilt, it makes me smile and wanting to finally get it on the back of the quilt (I bought it years back, most likely in a holiday sale when shipping was cheaper from the US and the exchange rate made it worth shopping overseas) was inspiration near the end to keep going.
Hexy MF

I bought some other hexy fabric for the binding (and the discovered when I put it away that I already owned a half yard of it…) but it was a darker cream than the backing and didn’t look right so I dove into the stash and pulled out a few things I thought would work then posted the selection on Instagram and used the one I was told to use!

Hexy MF

The actual machine quilting blocked my sewing for the entirety of August. I wouldn’t let myself work on anything else but I kept putting off working on this. Quilting is tiring at the best of times and it usually takes me 2-3 sessions to quilt a full-sized quilt. This one, right on the back of chemo, took about 5-6 goes but I got there in the end, although my tension was awful and there are some dodgy bits here and there. I decided to stipple as it hides a multitude of sins, like where the flowers don’t actually lay flat or things were a little wonky. The texture of the stipple has hidden all that and I am really pleased with the final look of it.
Hexy MF Quilt

This is a big quilt, I had to buy a full size piece of batting rather than a twin for it. It’s the 80/20 Hobbs stuff which tends to be the most reasonably priced about.

So, there you go, a quilt 3 years and 9 months in the making. Hopefully the other hand pieced quilt I’m working on won’t take so long, but I’m not going to bet on it being any faster!

Elegant? Pfffftttt

So, I bought some really nice linen from Fab Mills Workshop in a sale they had (ok, and then again when I was just buying fabric for no good reason…), and I’ve been thinking about what I want to do with it. I’ve also, still, been thinking about style and what I want to look like, how I want to dress, what I want in my wardrobe. My life has had some changes recently, obviously, and I’m on a crusade to loose weight and change my diet to aid in preventing the cancer returning, still not written the food post yet…  But it also changed again 2 weeks ago when the boys went back to school. They now both go on school buses, which means that after about 10 years of school runs, I don’t have to leave the house unless I want to, which further means that I could live in my pyjamas or yoga pants pretty much all the time if I wanted to. Thing is, I don’t want to….

Things to consider about what I wear include; 1. The house being cold in the winter (I’m not rich enough to run the heat all day, and I’m enough of a hippy not to want to anyway). 2. Comfort. I sit a lot reading and writing when I’m working on the PhD, or I’m cleaning the house or cooking so I need clothing that is comfortable and easy to wear but that isn’t so ‘nice’ that it will get ruined if I wipe my hands on it. 3. Style. Although I want to be comfortable, I don’t want to be a slob. I’m tired of jeans jeans jogging bottoms jeans yoga pants jeans. I want to feel like I’m dressed (says the woman who’s in her pyjamas and not intending to get dressed today!) but not bland and blah. 4. Able to transition to a working environment. I’m not intending to teach this academic year as I need to get my head back into my research (seriously, I’ve not looked at it at all for 9 months, I have no idea what I was doing anymore…) but I will teach again and it’s what I want to do when I finally get the Dr title. I want to have clothes that are me, I don’t want ‘work clothes’ and ‘home clothes’ (beyond a few things. some weekends just require yoga bottoms and a big fleece top whilst knitting on the sofa). Luckily most universities are pretty casual, especially for lecturers (or at least at my University they are!) and each one choses their own level of comfort and self-expression, some looking more traditionally professional than others. I want to have a cupboard and drawers full of clothes that I can just get dressed and it doesn’t matter where I’m going or what I’m doing, the clothes work.

So, I have been working on what I previously called my ‘stable’ of patterns. So far it’s pretty basic things like the Baseball Skirt, the Scout T-shirt, The Fen shirt and the Blueprints Cabin dress/top. I want a few more shapes than those though and I have patterns lined up to work with. All of those I’ve named are quite baggy and loose, which is comfortable, and it’s fun to use bright prints with those patterns, but I’m verging a little to close to toddler chic for my comfort (I adore people who can rock that look don’t get me wrong, it’s just not how I feel about my clothes now) and feeling bored of pulling jeans and a baggy shirt out day after day.

I’ve also been evaluating my knitwear and what I make. I showed you the huge pile of things I gave away and I’ve been reassigning stash yarn to new projects that fit more with what I want to see myself in than what I bought them to make 5 years ago! The linen obsession also hit the knitting yarn, but I’ll talk more about this part of my ideas when I have some knitwear to show you!

Anyway, back to the start, I was thinking about the linen, and I remembered Roo in particular talking about Merchant and Mills patterns. I had a look at the website and, although I liked a lot of the patterns, what I was looking for was a pretty plain dress that wasn’t too formal and that I could wear with leggings (are they going out of fashion now? I’ve been to 3 shops recently to try to get a navy pair and haven’t seen any leggings at all) or bright tights and one of my many hand knit cardigans or a jumper over.

20160917_125648Enter the Merchant and Mills workbook and the cover dress which is called Curlew. Th title of this post refers to the sub-title of the book, I’m not elegant and have no desire to be, I’m hoping I can give these patterns a more grungy look! You can also use the pattern to make a long-sleeved shirt (which I think would rock chambray) and a sleeveless top. I will have to do some work on the neckline as that thing is majorly wide, there is no way on earth the models are wearing bras, or if they are they’re strapless, neither of which are territory I’m comfortable with. I’m wondering if it would work with stable knits as well, hmmm. Anyway, that took care of the linen and gave me a direction to move in, but did I really need to buy an entire book for a dress pattern?

I like the Stride trousers, but I will have to wait for the huge belly to go on its merry way after the operation and when I can get back to doing real ab workouts. I like the Bantam sleeveless top/dress, although seeing Roo’s version it’s another not bra friendly make which will need a little work. Not really into the Saltmarsh drawstring waist skirt, although maybe shortened to just above the knee it’d be worth a look at some point. The Heron wrap top could either be incredibly cool looking in a solid over a bright t-shirt or it could just be uncomfortable and need adjusting all the time. It’s doing odd things in the photographs which I think might irritate the shit out of me if I were the one wearing it, another to ponder.

So, some things that need work and I have ideas about, but the main reason I bought the book, even above the Curlew dress, was for the Haremere jacket/coat.

20160917_125743See, along with the linen I also bought 6m of black/blue medium weight denim. I think a denim coat/jacket in this shape would be fabulous and work really well over the style I want to attempt and with all the huge shawls that I seem to be working on. I have some dark blue denim too which is a bit thicker and I’m going back and forth mentally between the two, but I think the darker new stuff will win.

I couldn’t figure out why the jacket hit me so hard, it has just really caught my imagination and I can see it in my head. I have been decluttering/purging/getting rid of shit I don’t need from my sewing room and upon moving a pile of things off the windowsill I came across a picture I’d cut out of a catalogue sometime last year.


Seems that somewhere in my brain this picture was lodged even though I didn’t remember it! It’s not exactly the same, but there are enough similarities in shape and style that it will work.

The only other decision I need to make before I probably throw myself into this (abandoning many other well laid sewing plans) is which length to make. I thought the longer coat length but then I looked at the picture next to the shorter jacket length


and now I’m not sure which one I want. Which would be more useful, more the style I want? Things I will ponder while I finish off the sewing project on my table at the moment!

Anyone made this jacket? I’ve not Googled yet but I will before I start on it.

The ‘style’ thing is going to be ongoing for a long time, but I am looking forward to trying these shapes and styles and seeing what I come up with and where they lead me.

Keeping On Keeping On

Didn’t realise it had been a month since that last post, opps. I am finally starting to feel better and the side effects of chemo are wearing off. My brain is coming back on-line too which is nice and I am down to having only a half hour nap each day (I was at 2-3 hrs at the worst points), I need the nap but I wake up after half an hour feeling much better. I have been having problems with the stoma, well not the stoma itself but keeping a stoma bag on without it leaking for any decent length of time has been hard for about two months now. I finally got a stoma nurse to come and see me and we figured out what was happening and now I just have to try different suggestions until something works at stopping that happening. It’s pretty depressing and annoying, but luckily to date it’s not happened away from the house (probably as I don’t go out much!!). If it stays like it is now where I get about 12 hrs (I used to get 3 days between changes) then I will just have to live with that until the reversal but I’m hopeful that I will be able to figure something out to make it a bit better.

I’ve also been working on what I eat, but that’s a whole post on its own which I will write at some point when I’ve figured out more clearly what I’m trying to do.

I think the most exciting thing is that I started running again this week! With the stoma issues I stopped the yoga for  bit but wanted to do some exercise so I decided to walk on the treadmill. I live in a really hilly area halfway up a very steep hill and using the treadmill means I can step off at any time I need to and I won’t get stuck half a mile from home too tired to get back (of course I bought the treadmill a few months before I was diagnosed and it’s sat there for 8 months unused, sigh)! My first time on I decided to walk a mile and see how I felt. Well, I felt well enough to run a few bits of it, not a lot, but it was running! I decided that it was a good sign that I was in better shape than I thought I yesterday I started the Zombies Run Couch to 5k programme and managed the 1st workout well. I covered 2 miles even in 33.20. It’s a walk/run programme and at my slowest running outside on the big hills I’ve sometimes run an entire 2 miles in that time so I was happy with what I did. In the final part of the session they leave you to decide if you walk or run or a combination for the final 10 minutes. I figured I’d run a few short bits but then a song came on from my first C25K programme. I always put this song on my running playlist because it reminds me of how far I’ve come from when I couldn’t run for 30 seconds and my rule is that when it’s on, no matter how tired I am or how bit the hill I’m on is, I run for the entire song, and so I did! I’m excited to get back and do some more next week and also to try to get back to some more yoga as I’m enjoying the programme I’ve been doing.

Anyway, you’re probably here for the makes, so here are a few more!

Sway DressSway Dress

This is the Sway Dress which too an age for me to get around to hemming as it was the most uneven thing I’ve ever made. I know it’s bias cut but it was ridiculously longer at the sides than front and back. I love this fabric, from The Textile Centre or maybe Abakhan, but should have lengthened it quite a bit as it’s not a great length on me even with leggings under it. I don’t know yet whether I’m going to chop it into a tunic or somehow add a band to the bottom of it in the same fabric to make it longer, we’ll see. The armholes are a little low on the sides as well so if I ever make this again I will adjust that. It’s a nice pattern, just probably not the best for someone quite as short and round as I am!

Next up is a massive cuddly shawl using Drops Paris Aran in Mustard and the Always Amsterdam pattern. This is a really easy addictive knit and I adore the colour of it, it’s going to get a lot of use I’m sure.

Always AmsterdamAlways AmsterdamAlways AmsterdamAlways Amsterdam I’ve just cast on for another shawl by the designer Isabell Kraemer and bought yarn for a third so you could say I’m a fan now!

Some socks! This colour caught my eye in my stash and I wanted to knit some easy socks to get back into the habit of making them so I cast on for the Primavera Socks using Yarntopia Treasures bamboo sock in Orange Marmalade. These were indeed easy and quick and took under a month start to finish which was nice after sock projects taking me literally years of late!

Primavera Socks

I’d like to say the momentum continued but my most recent pair of socks only have half a cuff in the month they’ve been on the needles…

We had quite a miserable dull summer weather wise (and in general as I wasn’t well enough to do much so it was the dullest one we’ve had in a long time…) and it seems to have made me want to make huge shawls. I had this bright pink Jaeger Aqua in my stash from basically when I picked up knitting again 13 years or so ago. I think I got it from Ebay thinking that it was a good amount to make something from, but turns out I could never match it to any patterns. So it is nice to see it knit up into Groovy and to finally be something I will wear.

Groovy ShawlGroovy ShawlGroovy Shawl

This is another stupidly easy shawl to knit and I did a lot of it whilst watching Orange is the New Black from start to finish.

I made a list of projects I wanted to finish (or make progress on as with this one) whilst I had the time to do these things and before I get back to studying and feeling guilty for making rather than working! A long while back I finished a sock yarn blanket and I cast on for another one just afterwards. This one has been in progress for 2 years now and basically all yarn (of shawl and sock weight) that I have leftovers from after completing a project gets added to the blanket in the order I complete the projects. I had quite a bit to get through this time:
Crochet Blanket Progress

All of that is now worked into the blanket and it is almost single bed size so, depending how many shawls and socks I finish, it shouldn’t be a WIP for long then I will need to find a new pattern that works for random amounts of yarn. The first one was stripes and this one is a huge granny rectangle! It was nice to crochet again for a bit and to know that I’m up to date with this project again.

Not a great photo, but I made a second Roberts Jumpsuit.
Roberts Jumpsuit

This one was a size smaller than the last which is much better and I used a lovely linen from stash, no idea where it came from but I’ve had it for years and it’s a really great mix of grey and blue. I’ve worn this a few times and it’s really comfortable. It’s a real bitch to iron though!

And that is everything I have pictures of! I finished a cardigan during the Olympics and finally blocked it today so there will be pictures soon. I have also finished a shawl that needs a block too. There’s the quilt too which needs pictures taking and I’m almost done with a dressing gown. The quilt really stole my sewing mojo as I didn’t work on anything until it was done once I reached the quilting stage and my enthusiasm wasn’t huge for it at that point. I love it now and will try to get some pictures if it dries up enough to take it outside as the backing fabric is light coloured!

I’ve also got the finishitis/startitis combination again, desperately trying to get things off the needles whilst casting on randomly for new things! It’s balancing out one off one on right now but that’s mainly because I needed the needles from one thing to use for the next. I have so many things I want to work on which is lovely but having too many things on the go means they take ages to finish. It’s always been like this for me with knitting though so maybe one day I will learn to not stress about it!

Back with more to show hopefully in less than a month (no promises though!).

Waiting It Out

So, I’m done with chemo. I made it through the seventh cycle right to the end but it took its toll on me and I only made it through 9 days of the final cycle before the side effects (in particular my hands which were in a lots of pain and basically unusable for a few days) got so bad that I had to stop. A week later and I’m still cycling through random side effects; upset stomach, sore eyes, extreme tiredness, insomnia, lack of appetite, skin falling off my hands, all joyful things.All I can do it wait for it to leave my body and then get through the stoma reversal operation. After that I can really start to try and put myself and my life back together again. I met with the surgeon and she is hoping that I will be recovered enough by October to have the operation and, as it has a shorter recovery period, that I should be able to go back to University in December. So it’ll be an entire year that I had to take out of my life for cancer, hopefully that will be the end of it but who knows, one day a time I guess with fingers crossed.

What is hard at this point is that basically now that treatment is over I’ve been left on my own. I don’t have any more appointments until I see the surgeon again next month. There’s no real advice at all beyond ‘do the usual things to stay healthy’ about how to avoid the cancer coming back. I wish there was more preventative research and knowledge about cancer, so many people are getting it now and so many of us outside the ‘normal’ range for the type we have. Basically I’m on my own trying to figure out what I can do to make myself as healthy as possible, I have made a start buying a juicer, thinking about how to finally get the weight off (the only risk factor for cancer I had, beyond having smoked, was being overweight) and how to get fit. I can’t see a nutritionalist on the NHS as there aren’t enough of them to get an appointment and they don’t generally understand a vegan diet anyway. So I’m basically trying to figure this out on my own, what I should eat what I shouldn’t eat, how to get fit again from being more unfit than I was last time around. I’m reading (sticking to sources like Kris Carr and real Drs rather than random Google junk), thinking, planning and trying, hopefully it will all be enough.

Anyway, less of the depressing, annoying stuff and more of the making! I haven’t sewn much recently as I haven’t had the energy and my knitting has slowed down, but I do have a good number of makes to share.

First up Messaline by Bristol Ivy. This is a nice boxy jumper with 3/4 sleeves and cables down the front. I’m trying to make garments that will be useful in my wardrobe rather than lots of bright colourful things that don’t go with anything else, thus I decided to make this is black cotton, using up some of my Rowan 4ply Cotton collection that I guard since it was discontinued. For some reason there is a stripe across the back of this jumper even though I used all the same dyelot. I don’t care enough to rip it out and do it again so I will trust that no one will really notice, especially after a few washes.


These aren’t hard cables, but in black cotton with counting involved and a big chart it became too much for my brain to deal with during chemo and over the winter so I stalled halfway up the front. When I eventually got into it it was done quite fast and I’m really happy with it. It’s a great pattern, well thought out with lots of nice details, I may make another in the future if I can find a thicker yarn that gets gauge.

Demi Pants These are my second pair of Tessuti Demi Pants. I was sure the whole time I was making these that they were black, turns out that when you get them in good daylight they’re actually dark grey! It’s some sort of synthetic I have had in the stash for ages from Abakhan that sort of looks like linen. I made the largest size this time and did the crotch seam at quarter of an inch to give them a tiny bit more pulling up room. Once the stoma is gone and I can work on reduing the belly they will fit really well. I love these trousers. They’re so comfortable and sort of fun to wear if that doesn’t sound too odd. I do wish they weren’t so distinctive so I could make loads more pairs, I will make more of these in the future I’m sure but I think 2 pairs is enough for now!

Next up was a Plum blouse using the version with no shoulder seams and some fabric from Boyes which I thought was cotton lawn but now think has some synthetic in it. I cut the neck at a smaller size as I’m getting really tired of huge wide necklines (I won’t bore you with that rant again) but I think I’ll go down another size or two next time as it’s still a bit too wide.
Plum Blouse It’s got nice floaty sleeves which were a bit of a pain to hem, think fabric, hot iron, foggy brain, I had to rip the first one out and try again.PlumPlum So, another simple blouse pattern for floaty fabrics.

To go with it another baseball skirt using some thickish olive cotton from Abakhan.
Baseball Skirt

I have a final version of this skirt cut out from the remainder of the grey fabric I used for the Demi Pants which I must sew up soon. They’re really comfortable and go with all my bright shirts so having a range of colours will be nice, although the weather hasn’t been warm enough for skirts and I’ve been mainly living in pyjamas and sweatpants…

I finally make the Akita blouse from Seamwork magazine. I don’t know if it’s me or the larger sizes of their patterns but I’ve not had a lot of luck with Seamwork patterns. I actually have about 8 credits with them for patterns but they’ve not released anything that I’m interested in making.


Anyway, this didn’t fit well, the neckline was huge huge huge and I really didn’t like it so I gave it to my sister who says it’s comfortable.

I’ve got a few more Seamwork patterns yet to try so I can only hope that they’ll be better than the 2 I’ve not liked at all.

I finally finished my Heaven and Space shawl by Martina Behm.
Heaven and Space

Again, this wasn’t a hard knit, it just required counting which was hard at times and it become a little tedious and repetitive, but I pushed through and am very happy with it.Heaven and SpaceHeaven and Space

The yarn is bamboo from Yarntopia Treasures in the November colourway, so very soft, it’ll be great when the weather cools.

I’m tired and not providing very interesting commentary of my makes so I will carry on with the rest of them at a later time…

Starting and Finishing

The other week I got startitis and began madly swatching, buying patterns and re-assigning stash yarn to different patterns where I’d fallen out of love with what I’d originally planned. It all began with the casual thought 2 Sunday’s ago of ‘I’ll just clean up my Ravely queue while I’m having breakfast’. Now, that sounds like a smallish job, but I use my Ravely queue to dump every pattern I like in, that way when I am looking for something to go with a yarn I can search the queue rather than searching all of Ravelry which is a big dark hole that can take days to emerge from. When I began clearing it up I had 25 pages and when I was done I was down to 20. It appears that I am over round yoke cardigans, and I have so many free sock patterns in my queue that I don’t need to pay for any for a good long while.

This clearing up also uncovered several patterns that went with the Drops yarns that I have recently discovered via an Ebay seller called Knitted Home. Paris is a lovely soft aran weight cotton (hard to find) and there is a 4 ply cotton called Safran. I’d originally bought some Drops Belle from this seller which you’ll see knit up below and looked at what else she had when I went back to buy more of the Belle (a linen, cotton, viscose mix). The Paris and Safran are really good value for money and while I was sorting the queue I found 8 patterns I could use them for, so it was a rather expensive morning, although most of the things are shawls, hats or fingerless gloves so not as expensive as it could have been! You can tell what kind of summer we’re having so far by the fact that I want to knit those things and also bought yarn for a blanket…

Anyway, after casting on for a few new things I got that feeling that there were too many things on the needles. So along came the finishitis and I’ve been going back and forth between older projects and newer ones ever since trying to get things done whilst still enjoying the new knits. I put two projects on hiatus, one because I’m bored with it and don’t know if I actually like it or will wear it, and the other because it’s a cable/moss stitch pattern that isn’t charted and my brain can’t keep track of the instructions at the moment.

So, for the finishing up, this is my second Easy by Martina Behm using some naturally black bamboo with beads that I got from Etsy a while back (the yarn came beaded, I didn’t buy the components individually). It’s a bit darker than the photo and the beads are a nice turquoisy blue.

Easy EasyThis pattern really does live up to its name, it’s just back and forth garter stitch and even the second half where you change the direction of the knitting isn’t hard work and is easy to pick up and put down. Can always use a black shawl for the winter and it’ll be nice to have a smaller one that the pashmina I usually grab.

Next up is the jumper I made with the Drops Belle. The colourway is Diesel and the pattern is Church Mouse Yarns Simple Tee, and again it lives up to the name.
Churchmouse Yarns Simple Tee Churchmouse Yarns Simple Tee

Churchmouse Yarns Simple TeeYou basically just go back and forth with a few lifted increases for the sleeves and slipped stitched edging on the sleeves and bottom slits. This is pretty huge but it hangs really nicely and I’m pleased with how it came out. So much so that I’m about to cast on for the shorter version with sleeves using the same yarn but in Navy Blue. I’m going to go down a size for the shorter one as it doesn’t have the length to stop it being sacklike, it’s a nice well written pattern though and I made this whilst binge watching the tv show Fringe from start to finish. I did need an extra ball of yarn on top of what the pattern called for but luckily the seller still had the colourway so all was fine!

Next up were socks that have been on the needles since October, which is stupid as they’re plain round and round socks so not hard at all. I had been making these on the train to University and whilst working in the library there so they kind of got lost when I stopped going. Anyway, a few days work and the final (half) season of Haven and they’re all done.
Plain Striped Socks

On a telly note, has anyone watched The Americans? I have been trying with it and it was interesting to begin with but around episode 11 of the first series I got really bored with it. I think it was the fact that large portions of the plot appeared to just be people having sex, which would explain why the Cold War went on so long I guess. Does it get better? Should I carry on? Was anyone else confused by a Welshman as a Russian pretending to be an American? Is it odd to want the Russians to succeed as the FBI are horrid (although it’s fun to see John-Boy again, my family loved The Waltons way back when)? I’ve seen lots of people raving about it so I’m wondering if it’s just me, like with Orphan Black which I made it 2 and a half episodes into and then abandoned whilst everyone else seemed to love it. Anyway, I’m watching a lot of tv right now trying to stay off my feet, any suggestions that aren’t period dramas and don’t revolve around people being horrible to each other? I’m waiting for this series of Vikings to finish being broadcast so I can binge watch it start to finish and my sister and I are limping through Sons of Anarchy which began brilliantly but has gone downhill since they killed my favourite character in series 4 and everyone became backstabbing liars…

In the real world, Piggle turns 9 tomorrow and I’ve bought him a 7″ Kindle Fire as his present. I decided to make him a case as he’s not getting much else with the price of that. I got him to pick out fabric and for some reason he thought I was making him pyjamas from 2 fat quarters, I guess that’s what I usually ask him to pick fabric for! Anyway, he has a great eye for colour and print as I’d have not put these together at all but they look great. Plus I found a zig zag button in my button box for it. Piggle is a big fan of all things pink so it wasn’t any surprise that he went for that colour stack of fabrics.
Kindle Case Kindle CaseThe pattern is an e-reader sleeve one I got from Etsy a long time ago and luckily the 7″ Kindle is the same size as one of the older Kindles so I didn’t have to do any math and cut my own pattern. Jim will want his own Kindle too for Christmas now so I’ve already pulled out the fabric to do him a case while I’ve got the pattern out.

So, in my knitting basket now I have Messaline by Bristol Ivy, I have 29 rows left of this and I’ve blocked the sleeves and back so it should be done soon as long as I make myself sew it together and pick up the neck rather than abandoning it! I’m making 2 large shawls, both in cotton but in totally different colours, one is shocking pink and the other is mustard, Plus one is stocking stitch and the other lace and garter stitch so it’s good variety. I’m enjoying the knitting on both of those. I’m still working on the Heaven and Earth shawl here and there, some days counting to variations of 10 is too much for me but it’s getting on. I’ve got a linen cardigan on the go too, Brise by Hannah Fettig. It’s going to be really light weight and see through and it’s an incredibly bright neon yellow that I love. I’m also going to cast on for that Simple Tee I mentioned earlier soon, and try not to go too mad with casting on more and more, although the fact that I find swatching really dull does hold me back a bit luckily! All my projects are on Ravelry and my username there is Anna, not feeling into hunting down links for everything today, sorry!

In chemo news. I made it through the 60% dose to the end of the two weeks but the skin fell off the bottom of my feet and they wouldn’t let me start the next course until they had recovered as they worry about infection. I had 3 weeks off between courses (of course I was just starting to feel human again when I began with the 6th course!). I was all ready to go and pick up my pills when I got a call from the Oncology Nurse saying that they couldn’t give them to me as my platelets were too low and I’d have to go and see the Professor to see what to do. So that added another half week on the end of the break. The Professor looked at my platelet counts on a graph and surmised that the anomaly was the fact that they’ve been so high for a while, usually they hover right around what they are now, 77, rather than in the 90s and low 100s which is where they have been. He over rode the system to allow me the medicine and off I went again. I’m actually doing ok on this one so far and don’t feel as bad as I have on past courses, whether that will last I don’t know and as the skin is starting to go on my feet again I’m not sure how long it’ll be before I get to start course 7. It’s frustrating to have to wait and wait to start something you don’t really want to do. It kind of feels like I’m going to be doing chemo for the rest of my life, apparently it will end some day though I’m told. I have an appointment with my surgeon on Wednesday to talk about reversing the stoma, although that will have to wait until after my body recovers from the chemo so it won’t be for a few months at least.

Anyway, I’m plodding along, making and doing, listing things in the Etsy shop (although no one is buying yet, maybe soon) and trying to finish off things that have been sitting around for too long. I have 2 quilts, some cross stitch, some knitting and getting up to date on my crochet sock yarn blanket on my list so we’ll see what happens with those. I’m trying to make the most of the time I have to do these things as once the chemo does end and the operation is over I will have to get back to the PhD and build back up to fully living my life again (I miss yoga and running a lot) and digging my house out of the dirty dark hole it’s sunk into while I’ve been too tired to deal with more than making sure we have clean clothes, clean dishes, food to eat and hoovering occasionally… Seems silly to let this opportunity to make stuff all the time pass really.

I’ve got another recently made pair of Tessuti clown pants which are impossible to photograph unless you’re wearing them to show you and I’m working on a shirt plus there might be more done knitting soon so I’ll be back with that soonish!