Thursday, 29 October 2015

New beginnings

I've been blogging for about a year and a bit, and looking back it seems that my knitting blog has been inundated with sewing posts. When I started I wanted to focus on knitting and developing skills with wool, but as my skills with my trusty sewing machine develop too I really want to share even more of that.
I have decided a fresh start is required, so I am moving my blog over to 
I will eventually move all of my past posts over and delete this blog. But I wanted to invite you over to join me before I do that.
Hope to see you there soon x

Thursday, 24 September 2015

What do you wear to a wedding

I may have mentioned during my sewing plans post that I have a wedding coming up, my little brother is due to get married at the end of October in Ireland. Of course there was no question that I would be making my outfit for the occasion, that way I get exactly what I want right? Well that only works when I actually know what I want!

Luckily I began thinking about this quite some time ago, at the end of spring in fact. I focussed my attentions on the dress, which is of course the good bit, changing my idea of what I wanted umpteen times. I saw a pretty dress on Pinterest which I really liked and which set me off on the idea that I wanted a V neck dress. I've not actually made one before so this will be different... Special. I browsed patterns to find a suitable fit and flare dress and came across New Look 6799.

Photo from pattern

Perfect. I found a fabric online which I though fits with an autumn wedding, not too summery but very pretty...

And then I paid attention to what I just said.... Autumn wedding.... In Ireland.... Means very chilly!!
I'm going to need some kind of jacket! After some hunting to find a smart yet classy wedding-outfit-appropriate jacket I settled on New Look 6799 (which I'm pretty sure came free with Sew magazine, or at least I don't remember actually buying it)...

Now making allowances for the fact that this jacket looks a bit big for the model, and ignoring the rather hideous fabric choice, let's look at option E. Is it just me or is that very Jackie O?

Based upon the fact that the pattern comes with a fit and flare dress I thought 'Ah ha!' I searched for a suitable fabric for it... Tried to find a matching cream with no luck (it must be a very unusual shade), but I did find a beautiful navy boucle online which I thought would match beautifully. But I've never used this fabric before (loose weave... Unravelling... Argh!) so I did a little research to see how others have coped with it. Turns out most people have used it for a Chanel style jacket, and a lot of blogs ('Go Chanel or go home' I'm looking at you), have wonderful guides on how to master the Chanel jacket...

I love the idea of quilting the lining to the outer! So while the dress is yet another fit and flare dress, this jacket now feels like an adventure, and I'm actually rather excited about using some Chanel techniques to achieve my Jackie O jacket.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Hello winter knitting!

So yesterday's post was a very brief introduction to what I plan to make over the winter (my plans are much more in-depth but I would have been talking all day), but I was just wittering on about what I'm going to sew.... Well hold on to your mittens... I also have plans to knit winter stuff, I know... Shocker!

I still have my Belmont cardigan on the back burner from summer, but I am really starting to crave making much more cosy things. So I have been planning. This has also been subject to the wardrobe architect viewpoint, and as knitting takes so much longer (especially for me) I really want to be careful about what I jump into... So I have narrowed this down to two jumpers and a cardigan, with a backup cardigan in case I should run out of things to knit (ha ha, I know, not going to happen). And of course a snuggly new hat!

I've already started my first winter project, and am just up to the armholes so it's going well... So far. I obsessed a bit last year about the Pomme de pin pattern that has been made about a million times on Ravelry...

Photo poached from Ravelry

This really is my kinda cardigan, it's big, it's squishy, it's cozy, it's relaxed, and it can be paired with both a smarter shirt or blouse as easily as a casual t shirt. I must have one!

So mine will be a lovely rich blue, a cheap and wash friendly DK that I'm hoping will mean it survives how often I can see me wearing this one...

Photo taken on my knee in the library

By the way my hand is not that white, but it was the only way my camera would capture the blue tone, which is pretty accurate here. I'm very excited about this one.

Next on my list is a jumper I had planned as soon as I had started knitting but haven't ever gotten around to... The also hugely Ravely famous 'Owls'

Photo taken from pattern

The pattern shows this beautiful grey version, and this is pretty much the colour of the wool I have stashed away for it. I'm hoping this is a relatively quick knit as its a bulky yarn being used.

Next on my list is a very versatile jumper which I hope to be able to wear to work... It's an Andi Satterlund pattern just called 'a cropped sweater' and it's free!! Woo hoo!!

Photo poached from Ravelry... Again

It's a very simple DK weight but with some colour contrasting which makes it look sweet. I'm undecided on my colour for this one... Which is why it is number 3 on my list... Gives me time to go yarn shopping. I like this one as its an all in one with no seams, I kinda want to try it to see how succesful I am.

And the accessories come in the form of a hat I spotted on Pinterest, whose link took me back to Ravelry again (joy! No pattern hunting required!) and is called the Lomond hat.... Also free!!

Picture snaffled from Pinterest 

EAR FLAPS! Have you ever seen cuter ear flaps... They don't even look the least bit silly... Plus I get to make a Pom Pom, which I haven't done since Brownies! I don't have an order in the knitting que for this little dude, but I do have some fuzzy alpaca blend stash to use up... It's like fate. I shall knit this when the chill in the air appears. And I will have cozy ears on my walk into work.

So that's it for the main list, not too heavy going I think, very do-able with Christmas presents interspersed along the way. So I decided to add a wild card. Something I'm allowed to start if I get all of the other things finished... Meet Agatha...

Yet another Ravelry theft.

This is another AndI Satterlund design, which looks super cosy and really pretty. I think I'd like it a little longer though, just an inch or two. So this is my 'just in case' pattern, cos, you never know.

All of these are chosen to match up with my sewing plans, nice crisp white shirts to go under jumpers, cardigans to go over blouses, and cosy weekend jumpers to wear with my jeans (I'm not making jeans... I'm not quite there yet). 

My word do I feel organised

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Ok summer, let's call it quits

Tis that time of year again... Holidays are over... Kids are back at school (not mine, I have none, but it's much quieter in town now)... Jumpers are out. I have officially given up on summer.

As is usual for pretty much anyone I have been thinking about what to make over the winter, what is my wardrobe missing? I've been very aware of my wardrobe since I started making my own stuff. I really don't want to fall into the trap of making stuff that never gets worn, or gets worn once, or just isn't 'me'.

I've been pretty hooked on the idea behind the 'wardrobe architect' series that has been appearing on the Coletterie blog. It is very geared around looking at what you need rather than just what catches your eye. Really thinking about what will fit in with what you actually wear day to day, and thinking about a few things you can plan to fit around this. I also love the idea of a capsule wardrobe, another term that has been floating around online, that everything goes with everything.

I sort of took this approach in early summer when I thought about four items that I wanted to make rather than just flailing around. I set a goal of two skirts (I made a chambray and a squirrel one), a shirt dress (hello McCalls 6696), and wanted a vintage blouse... Which didn't happen. So I have thought, I have planned, and I have set out some winter sewing goals...

That vintage blouse that never happened.... Well I finally found me my pattern! Enter a late 60s Simplicity, it's 2" tighter around the bust than I need, but I'm going to muslin the hell out of it and grade it up to a 34". I found a viscose online that I have had in my mind for this, moody wintery colours, but now my 2 meters has arrived I keep thinking I should save it for something better.

What do you think? I'm undecided so far.

What I absolutely have my heart set on is a Hollyburn skirt, and after seeing this one on the 'Rue des Renards' blog I essentially want to steal it and make a duplicate!!

I mean come on... It's gorgeous! So I am now on the hunt for a suitable fabric.

I also love the idea of a cute little sweatshirt just like the Astoria which featured in the Seamwork magazine a couple of months ago, but I'm wondering if the Plantain pattern could be adjusted a little, or should I just give in and buy this little beauty. I have plans for a light grey and a black version of this in squishy cosy sweatshirt fabric.

And as will always come in handy over the winter, I shall be making a New Jersey dress, in a very practical and boring black. I have already made the 'Skater Dress' pattern up last year, I think I shall make another.
Oh and I do need some white shirts/blouses so I've added a few of those to the list.

So ok I know that's more than four, and on top of that my brother is getting married in just under two months and I will be making a frock to wear for that too... So I had better get a wiggle on!

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Working to a deadline

Things I do not like.... Deadlines. I returned from my holiday a week ago, it was a 'stay-cation' visiting my parents who live in Berkshire (with a stop off in Dublin where my brother lives). I decided a couple of months ago that I'd like to take clothes which were mostly me made, as a kind of me made holiday. I planned the things I was going to make over the summer, some of which I've already blogged about. Among these items were two knits, one of them was the shrug (which didn't actually make it on holiday as it suddenly became rather warm), the other was a deep red cardigan which was to match a dress which you haven't seen yet.

The Belmont cardigan by Gudrun Johnson (photo taken from pattern)

I began this like all good knitters do, I made a swatch to check gauge and to practice that eye catching pretty lace on the front

I know what you're thinking... That's not red! Well I used the same kind of yarn as I did for my Victory jumper, but I swatched in the cream colour keeping the wine colour for the real thing. And yes I know this means the gauge might have been out, but I figured blocking would fix that...

And so I began (people who follow my Instagram wil recognise these photos, I poached them from there for the blog). Thing is once I finished the ribbing and had a few rows under my belt I wasn't happy with the looseness of the fabric. So I ripped back and began with 3mm needles rather than the required 3.5mm. I understood this would mean it would be smaller so I adjusted to make the next size up.
This is where that pesky deadline started to niggle at me. I had 6 weeks to go at this point. I figured with some committed knitting time I could still do it. 

I knitted everywhere, in the car (as above - with quite curly needles until my 3mm needle tips arrived in the post), in the library between jobs, at home watching the TV. The pattern is great I must point out, it's easy to follow and to remember, the lace was coming on a treat

After it got to this point...

.. I know, nearly there! It became very apparent the back over the shoulders would be far too tight. I was running out of time at this stage. So rather than rip the whole shebang back (all that lacework!) I took the back down to the sleeve divide and put increases in until the shoulders were wide enough. I know, it was a patch when it should have been properly mended. But at this point the deadline had taken over! I just ploughed on ahead (hangs head in shame).

I even made sleeves...

They were tricky, I've never made them before by picking up around the armhole and working downwards. Sadly I have also never mastered the magic loop so this was done on DPNs, meaning I couldn't try on as I went... Result... Sleeve one was much too tight! (Goes to sit in a corner to rock gently). So I thought (deadline looming), I can go ahead with sleeve two, get the size right, and then re-do sleeve one, I've still got time. So a much larger sleeve two went ahead. Once I had finished this... In the car on the way to Berkshire... I tried on the finished cardigan... Sleeve two fitted, yay! But the rest of it was tiny!! (Sobs)

So I have learned several lessons here
1. A swatch only helps if you continue to use the same size needles for the actual item
2. When things start to go wrong, don't just continue and hope for the best 
3. Deadlines are evil!!

So for the time being Belmont has been returned to the balls of wool from whence it came. I will try it again, I really like the pattern and I really want my red cardigan. But for now, I'm going to try something new, and I'll do it very carefully... With no deadlines.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

How not to make a dirndl

I've been making quite a lot of the same skirt pattern I have noticed (you haven't even seen the denim version yet!).

And while I love the shape of this one, it seems you can have too much of a good thing. I found some fabric while shopping online which I just couldn't let go of, it's got squirrels on it!! And even at a whopping £12 a meter I still had to have some, but I stuck to just ordering a single meter of it. Once it arrived I then started to wonder what to do with it, but really we all know it had to be a skirt. I mean just look at it!

It's a light cotton, navy blue with white and light blue squirrels all over (no pattern matching required you will notice. Some of these little guys even have little acorns!!

I figured a good and frugal use of my meter would be a dirndl skirt, the only measuring needed really was the waistband and the length, providing it was wide enough the waist gathers would surely take care of the rest. I researched how to plough ahead with this and found a great tutorial by Gertie on her 'Blog for better sewing'. Wonderful! Off I went.

Now it's disclosure time. There are no photos of this skirt, and I shall explain why. The tutorial was great, easy to follow and resulted in a very nice dirndl. Then when I tried it on it became apparent that ample hips like mine do not lend themselves to snug waists and gathers around the hips... My word I looked wide! 
These skirts are perfectly beautiful on other people, but on me... Nope

However I refused to let the squirrels down, this skirt can be saved!! So one afternoon (while also tending to a poorly bunny) I unpicked the whole thing! Well it was just the waist but it felt like the whole thing. This left me with a correctly measured waistband, and a tube of fabric hemmed at one end and with a zip at the other. You know what this calls for (I explained to the poorly bunny who glared at me from his cone of shame)... Box pleats!!

Ta da!
A smoother line over the hips and all the fullness of the dirndl... Boy do I feel smug! I confess that I managed this largely by fluke, I just guessed the size of one pleat, repeated it so they all matched, and asides from a smaller pleat over the hip opposite the zip, perfect fit!!

And a close up of the pleats. This went from a huge failure to a huge success thanks to box pleats. It's such a fun skirt, and I can't believe I've never made anything from a novelty print before... Madness!!

One more shot from the back... I really love this skirt

Oh and the bunny is fine now :)

Thursday, 6 August 2015

English summers are rubbish

So it's been an up and down sort of a summer, while America has been sweltering in heat waves we have had... Well...

Ok so it's maybe not quite that bleak.. But it's been sodding chilly.
This drove me to do a bit of what I can only describe as winter knitting... Enter the shrug!!

This beauty is an aran alpaca and polyester blend 'James C. Brett Aztec' which is quite a mouthful. I followed the free pattern 'Cashmere shrug' to be found on Ravelry (all hail free patterns!!).

I loved this pattern, it's a ridculously easy K2 P2 rib (kind on those who are pretty shoddy at fitting... Me). I whipped this up in less than a month! LESS THAN A MONTH!! Then it sat there for a week waiting to be stitched together... Oops

Even the stitching was pretty pain free. And I really love the results

It has no fastenings, covers the waist of low slung jeans, has a cute little collar, is fuzzy from the alpaca, but most importantly... It's nearly wind proof!!

It's perfect to use as a jacket in the summer, and I anticipate it will get a lot of use in the winter... For now it's my good luck charm as no sooner had I completed it...
Out came the sun