Relaxing, and getting things done, is soooo good!

Yes, it’s official – I’m retired  so don’t ask me to do a darned thing!

Actually not quite true yet as I still have a very small amount of client work outstanding – but it’s all work that has no deadline so I can actually do it when I feel like that sort of work rather than feeling obligated. How happy am I! I promise this is the last time I gloat ‘coz  I’m retired . Honest.

Anyway, my last post was a frantic dash to get the Jungle January garments posted before Ann slammed the gate closed so I didn’t tell what else I had been doing so I will start here..

In with my lovely knitting ‘Stitching Santa’ parcel from Jo  was a skein of sock yarn in lovely greens. Clearly since it was my gift I had to knit this for myself. Since I had no other knitting on the needles I decided to start January with this. The yarn was a lovely Superwash wool/nylon sock yarn by Knitglobal which knitted up beautifully into very comfy socks. Thankfully they are also very warm because it has been positively bleak here in the UK. Grey and wet. Yuck! There are another couple of balls of Drops sock yarn so I can start another pair whenever I want. Bliss!

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..and back

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Butterick 6388 front…

I started sewing with the Butterick 6388 pattern and a cheerful red polka dot jersey because …well, it’s miserable in January! Red always cheers me up. However, I really have to say I prefer this as a top (as it was for JJ in the last post). It’s a great pattern – and I certainly see more of these in the (possibly near) future – but I like the top better. The pockets in the diagonal seams are great but inclined to open up a bit when you are wearing the dress. I may go back and sew these closed. The fabric is far from high quality – probably plain polyester jersey from the Rag Market but I have no recollection as it had been in stash for ages. It does have as much stretch as the pattern claims to need but I would much prefer it to be stretchier as it clings a bit. It may behave better once it has been washed but at the moment it is giving electric shocks as there is so much static!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy next choice was another Rag Market fabric – this was an astonishingly good buy at a mere 50p per yard (or whatever length they were selling in that day) and is a very heavy jersey. I should probably have thought more carefully about that weight when I decided to repeat the wonderful Savage Coco Presto top in it. The front (and as it’s cold I did the back too) is doubled so there is a lot of cloth here. I  really should have put a petticoat under that dress before taking photographs – I don’t usually have a sway back problem so I assume the cloth is just stuck to my tights. I really loved this made up as a top and have worn the ones I made last year Yikes!!! it was 2015 a massive amount. They have every right to be looking a bit shabby now. I’m not sure if I will keep this as a dress or shorten it to a t-shirt length. I’m really not good at wearing dresses but I’m trying so hard. Perhaps you could tell me what you think?

In addition to sewing these for me I have been destroying a whole load of good cotton. I really can’t believe how long it is taking to cut the pieces for The Managements quilt! Sheesh! All that time and I’m going to be spending even more sewing it all back together. Remind me whats great about quilting can you?! I can assure you that progress on this project is going to be outstandingly slow. No, even slower than that.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHaving finished the socks I was knitting I have broken out of my sock addiction to start knitting a pattern by Purl Soho I saw a while back and just loved. At the time there didn’t seem to be many made up (and when I worked out the cost of the yarn recommended I could see why!). The Botanical Yoke pullover is shown made up in Cashmere/Merino which would quite clearly be heavenly to wear. As I hadn’t used a Purl Soho pattern (and as I said there was no information on Ravelry about the pattern at the time) I decided to make it up in a more summer appropriate, and purse friendly, Drops Cotton Light. Again I chose a bright red (what can I say, red just feels good in January) and have been enjoying knitting this whilst watching the telly box. I have the body knitted up to the armholes, and one sleeve started, so it shouldn’t be too long before I hit the exciting part. By knitting in this yarn first it will give me the opportunity to test the pattern, check the size (my guage is pretty much perfect), and decide if I love it enough to invest in the cashmere/merino to make a sweater to treasure. So far it’s looking good.

Already we are almost half way through February so there won’t be massive amounts sewn for me now (although there are patterns lined up ready to use). I do have a shirt cut out for The Management, and I really do want to start my coat before summer so I really should crack on. But, and it’s a big but, I am only sewing when I feel like it at the moment – and that feels really good. I have been reading, cooking, exercising, and clearing some of those jobs you always intend to go but tend to get left.

I’m enjoying life. Hope you are too.


Jungle January

Oh dear, again I am really late posting what I have made for Jungle January hosted by the lovely Anne at Pretty Grievances again.

I did join in a couple of years ago when I made a pair of zebra print leggings. I knew I had a bit of this fabric left and had been hoping to get it made into something, ANYTHING! I bought a pattern from Melissa at Fehr Trade which I loved but had totally forgotten buying (I’m sure there will be many more of these occasions as I trawl through the detritus in my stash – both fabric and patterns) and knew this was it.The VNA top was beautifully designed, the PDF pattern fitted together with no hitches when I traced it so I was ready to go. Until I was diverted by something else and lost my tracing. Anyone else as disorganised as me?

I searched high and low, gave up and traced again – measuring myself again and discovering I needed the size smaller than I had traced anyway. Probably just as well it got lost. Anyhoo, this exercise vest was made entirely from ‘scrap’ fabric as the zebras were leggings leftovers, and the contrast black section was from a client project that left lots of chunks of black lycra. The sewing instructions were very clear, and the point at centre back is a particular delight. It probably took less time to cut out and sew than I spent searching for the original tracing.I have worn this a couple of times out running and to my yoga class and it performs beautifully – but as Melissa is an experienced runner herself I wouldn’t have expected any less. I love this and will certainly be making more as I prefer vests to t-shirts when exercising but I will reduce the hip circumference a little (I basically have no hips).

Feeling flushed with success I cut out a top from Butterick 6388 which I bought a while back when it was on sale. I loved the neckline and thought it would be absolutely perfect for the bleak grey weather we are having. Again the fabric is leftover from another project – Fadanistas Sneaky Shrug. The fabric was dirt cheap from Birmingham Market so I have absolutley no idea exactly what it is – but I have washed it and it survived, it has a bit of silver twinkle in it, and it has a leopard print. What more can you ask? I have worn this combination of leopard top and warm leggings (not blogged yet) pretty much since they were finished. I love them both – expect to see more. Sorry it’s such a lousy mirror selfie but I took it very quickly to be able to get it posted.

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I have done more in January but the whole idea of retirement has gone to my head and I haven’t been taking photographs or blogging (although I have been trying – and largely failing – to keep up with reading blogs). I promise to update the January makes very soon. Honestly promise.

Kim 🙂

 

 

 


Yucky/Lovely December

Oh boy have I had a grotty month – with the exception of the Christmas holidays. I don’t really want to go too far down that rabbit hole but I have been feeling grotty almost all month and it still isn’t sorted out. As a result I have been feeling very sorry for myself (crying at adverts and such on the TV is never good) and haven’t got anywhere near everything I wanted done through the month. All I can really thrill to is the fact that online shopping exists, without which we might possibly have been having beans on toast for Christmas lunch instead of the food that was so wonderfully delivered to the door by a very cheery chap from a local supermarket.
I have deferred some of my client work into January so my ‘retirement’ will be a little delayed, although I will still be doing a fraction of what had been needed previously.

I had intended to have a couple of trips into Birmingham to buy goodies for my #StitchingSanta partners but wasn’t able to do it. I did manage a bit of sewing and crochet for them – the ‘toiletry bags’ from Rhondas blog  which I thought would make great anything bags, and the face scrubbies from the stitchinmommy. Whilst I was reading the comments on Sewchets blog I saw one from Thimberlina who was one of my recipients saying that she wouldn’t mind one of the covered notebooks  – I hope you liked it Ali!

I was pretty miserable when I sent off the parcels to Ali and Hila as I had run out of wrapping paper, the gifts had been largely mail order rather than the Birmingham madness I had imagined, so weren’t even prettily wrapped. I swear I will do better next year and apologise wholeheartedly to Ali and Hila, and thank The Management for his help in getting them delivered at all. I hope you liked your parcels despite the numpty wrapping ladies.

I really was wowed by my two parcels.

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Sewing #stitchingsanta

The first shown is my sewing package which was sent by Nikki from beads and barnacles . I was overwhelmed by the gorgeous sewing box she had made, and included goodies too – a matching pin cushion, needle case, scissor holder with scissors, and pattern weights that knock spots off my flat seaside stones. As if that wasn’t enough she included a piece of fabric, a lovely beanie hat knitted by her sister Pippa, knitting stitch markers, and a package with all that was needed to make myself a hot chocolate to have with the macarons she had made. Treasure indeed!

I can’t wait to start collecting my sewing gizmos together into that box – perfect for someone about to change sewing habits to sew for themselves instead of clients. Thank you for everything Nikki.

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Knitting #stitchingsanta

Having gathered my breath from opening my sewing parcel I couldn’t possibly have expected the wonders included in my knitting parcel. Jo from Jo through the keyhole had clearly been rummaging in my foggy brain to come up with so perfect a collection. The sock yarn is wonderful – and as it was a gift I have to make socks for me, don’t I? There was also a beautiful knitted shawl/scarf which I will make massive use of as I’m almost permanently freezing at the moment. There was a knitted purse kit which looks like fun, and a dachshund brooch kit with a Mollie Makes magazine (which is new to me) so I’m going to be well occupied once my brain clears. There was also a book called The Great Christmas Knit Off, chocolate, and tea sachets. I confess that reading with a cup of tea and a chocolate is about my activity level at the moment so all of this is massively appreciated. Thank you so much Jo.

This was my first experience of Sewchets fabulous #STITCHING SANTA and it has been wonderful. Thanks so much for organising as it must be lots of work!

I have done some knitting for myself this month but haven’t had the brain power to attack anything that couldn’t be ripped out to start again. My vest is finished and I’m very happy with it (Bessie pressed into action again for photos – you really don’t want to have my mug at the moment 😞). As you can see there was very little yarn leftover – I did start  to worry that I was going to run out!

I made my mum a new tea cosy in a pattern that she must have knitted on more occasions than she could possibly remember. She was very happy, and very amused to have had one knitted for her. The socks were for Jess who loves wearing them as ‘slippers’ (and doesn’t bother taking them off for bed so any nocturnal rambling is with warm feet!).

I’m determined that January will herald a new start, and that feeling better will be part of it (positive thinking!).

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, and wish you a fabulous 2017 .

Kim x


Christmas planning and knitting for me!

Oh dear, here we are in December again. Every year I pledge to be better organised than last year and every year I regret not being. Maybe next year when I have retired?

Anyway, the weather has turned significantly colder and that always triggers my knitting bug. I really enjoy sitting in the evening on a cold, dark, stormy (sorry, getting carried away) night with a glass of something tasty and a nice knitting project. But it really gets in the way of the sewing plans!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWell, I got well and truly carried away when I was making an order for a couple of balls of yarn to finish off a project I was copying from the lovely Sue at Fadanista (click the link to see her lovely wrap) and the bag in the photo was the result. I do have plans for all of the yarn in there – but having used the extra yarn I needed to make the wrap that looked so good on Sue neither myself or The Management liked the result, neither thought I would make use of it so I am back to the drawing board with that particular yarn. This was in fact the second time I had knitted the wrap as I wasn’t convinced I had it right the first time and had to check with Sue. Rather than knitting again in rib I continued in moss stitch which looked lovely and tweedy – but the result wasn’t what I wanted. I pulled that one out before I remembered I should have taken photos – sorry!

Rather than get bogged down in that one again I have started on a vest top from Ravelry.

3b-2_medium

I had been looking for a pattern in 4 ply which would make a very fine, but warm, layer to wear with a shirt in a cotton chambray(ish) stuff bought from Barry’s on one of the Birmingham trips. I think I may have been subliminally drawn to this as it was in the colour I had in mind. Yes, I have very imaginatively bought the same colour as the picture (you can just about see it in the bag). It has been started now and is coming along quite nicely. The need for a project I could enjoy whilst watching the TV is fulfilled on the back (plain) but I am going to have to concentrate on those front cables 😉 .

Progress has been pretty good so far but I have also been making a couple of little side projects for Christmas. I have joined in with Sewchets Stitching Santa this year (my first time of joining in although I have lurked on the sidelines before) so I am slightly involved in those too.

Have I done any sewing for me since Nell I hear you ask. Well, I did a little job to make a handbag more comfortable. Does that count?

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Too low for comfort

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Shorten strap to the pin

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Much better!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apart from fabric I used for client work my stash has remained absolutely static. I can’t wait to get stuck into that lovely wool for my coat – I’m hopeful that I will start this weekend as the client work is pretty much under control (and I am not going to answer the phone. Only kidding).

I hope all of your Christmas plans are actually running ‘to plan’, and that any sewing you want for yourself is going well.

Back soon with progress – I hope 🙂

 


Nell’s Done!

Actually Nell was finished almost two weeks ago but I have been in Northumberland again visiting the mothers. Sadly during the time I was there I was unwell, and the weather was cold. No, COLD – so I’m afraid I wanted to be more wrapped up than Nell offered and didn’t get a photograph. More on that later, but just for fun here are some nice cows (and yes, that is snow on the tops).

College Valley cows

College Valley cows

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Can you see the face and ‘girls’?

We did do some nice things during my visit – one of which was a visit to the College Valley. It is truly beautiful there, and as there had been snow the previous night we had truly lovely views of Kielder with snow on top. Sadly there had been lots of rain prior to our visit so walking wasn’t quite as good as it could have been. We did also visit Northumberlandia later that week (also very cold) and got close for the fist time despite passing her on many, many occasions.

 

Anyway, Style Arc Nell. I had intended this to be a project I could be proud of, but one that wouldn’t take too long. Why do I always seem to complicate things that really don’t need it? You may remember that the quantity of the fabric I chose was really insufficient to make up this pattern, it was also a textured wool that I thought would benefit from being lined. I thought I was unbelievably lucky when I found a matching lining in stash, and when I came up empty on a binding trim I knew that I had some felted wool jersey that would do the job without fraying. Sorted.

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Mounting the lining onto the pattern pieces (this is the sleeve/cape bit)

I went with a mix between mounting and lining (mining?) as I knew I didn’t have sufficient fabric to even cut a small allowance on the edges that were to be bound which would have enabled me to turn them neatly. This did cause a few problems later, and the seam where the ‘sleeve’ is sewn in and the main coat bound isn’t quite as tidy as I would have liked (no, I’m not showing it – if I pretend it’s not there I’m fine with it). Making up a full lining and turning the whole shebang through on itself would have solved my problems entirely and if I make this again that is exactly what I will be doing.

The instructions don’t include the lining so if anyone really wants me to I can do a description of how I achieved this – but more likely, how to do it with a ‘full turned lining’. I really like this cape – I wasn’t sure I would – but it has already got a bit too cold to wear it comfortably here in the UK. The gorgeous wide wings sleeves do flap in any sort of a breeze, and since they open up into an armhole it can be a bit nippy. It would be absolutely perfect for a night out (where you weren’t going to be outside much) but not so much for a day out tramping round town.

There is a lovely deep back pleat which makes movement very easy in this, and I loved having pockets (although if I make it again I would probably use a ‘warm’ fabric rather than the lining fabric for them). I did wear this out a couple of times but mostly I was just grateful to wear it round my shoulders in the car where I could easily take it on and off as the need arose.

I’m not absolutely sure when I will make this again as it is pretty distinctive, but the pattern is great and fitted straight off the press (though in truth it only really needed to fit on the shoulders!) but I would be pretty happy to recommend it. The instructions could have been in Greek as I really didn’t use them, though there is a very nice picture instruction sheet which was probably more instructive than the words for me.

I have been catching up on client work again since we got home (diminishing nicely, thank you!) so I am really keen to start that fabulous green/yellow coat next week. Updates eventually.


Do you have Gremlins too?

I have had the sort of spell with my sewing (and knitting!) that makes me think that there are forces at work to prevent me from making progress. Bits of pattern seem to walk off alone, instructions go missing, and knitting patterns go missing from the bag. It would be nice to blame someone else but I suspect it is happening because I feel so disorganised at the moment. I have been trying to be organised, but clearly not hard enough.

My workroom usually looks OK as it has to be ‘within bounds’ for when clients come for fittings and such. Not so my ‘back room’. OMG it is a mess. This is where all of my fabric, patterns, magazines, and frankly anything else I can’t find a home for tends to lurk. I know that I am better at starting projects than finishing – and that tends to get as far as the planning stage where I have got the pattern drawn/copied, found fabric and notions, and….. ground to a halt with it all in a pile. Add multiple projects into the mix and you can see why it has gotten into a state.

Well, I decided that it couldn’t carry on. Inside every Mess Monster is a tidy beast who really wants to get out. Or so I decided.

Pattern pieces, paper and fabric

Pattern pieces, paper and fabric

Tidy pattern and finished hat

Tidy pattern and finished hat

Digging through a pile of papers (a very wobbly pile it has to be said) I discovered the pattern pieces for multiple projects still in my dreams, and also the paper pieces and fabric pieces for a bucket hat that was cut out before we went to the USA. I found the pattern on Rhondas blog, but it was from a site called ‘Lost in Paris’ and the link to Rhondas tutorial is HERE .I did take two of these with me and this one was clearly left behind with not enough time to make up. I abandoned the mess and spent less than an hour sewing this into a hat, and also putting the pieces (all sizes – now correctly marked) into an envelope and into the right place. Score! Multiple stray pieces now turned into a tidy pattern and a hat that can be worn. That can live in The Managements car – he has a sporty two seater which has a roof which folds off and when it does I inevitably end up with the sun in my eyes.

Seam guide

Seam guide

One thing I was reminded of while I was making this hat was how I mark seam allowances that aren’t standard – or just aren’t marked on your sewing machine. It isn’t particularly clever, and I’m sure loads of you already do this, but this is so simple it’s almost not obvious. I use Post It notes (Sticky notes) with the sticky edge along the point that the fabric slides against. I already have a magnetic seam guide which is brilliant on my old Singer machines but not quite so amazing on modern machines. I sometimes use the ‘quilting bar’ thingy to guide wider seams but sometimes that isn’t wide enough. Again, the Post It comes to the rescue. And they are dirt cheap so I’m happy to throw them away once they loose their ‘stick’.

I have an enormous pile of pictures pulled out of magazines and newspapers of garments/outfits I like. I could probably use Pinterest or some other clever electronic way of storing these to good effect but I actually enjoy just leafing through a pile of these pictures from time to time to see what jumps out. Sometimes it’s not obvious, or something has past its ‘sell by date’ and can be thrown away. If I had just put all of these straight into the folder where they live there wouldn’t be half the problem – but it seems quicker sometimes just to drop them on the pile in the right room. More haste less speed?

I also have boxes that my magazines are meant to live in. The copies of Burda are mainly in their box – but occasionally I do get one out just to check the actual picture against my interpretation of the scanned sheet from the magazine. Again, it would be so easy just to put it straight away rather than just adding to the pile. Are you getting a theme here?

If I can keep up the sorting and tidying I am sure it will make me more productive. I could never ‘Kondo’ but I can certainly see the benefit of getting shot of some of the clutter in here. There are projects (with pattern and fabric at the ready) that I had totally forgotten about. It’s truly shameful. The client work is thinning out a bit – although there has been a tendency for some of my clients to come with a ‘shipping order’ now that they know that time is limited. That certainly wasn’t part of my plan!

If I can actually plan my sewing as an extra ‘client’ I am more likely to actually shift some of these. I have always said that I don’t have UFO’s – do these count? If they do I have LOADS of UFO’s! Oh dear.

Larry has a hole!

Larry has a hole!

Larry front

Larry front

As it has started to get colder here now I have started to dig out my jumpers. I do wear them during cool summer evenings rather than a coat, but as I am a fairly warm person they have been tucked away for a little while. Imagine then my horror when I got my lovely brown Larry out the other day and discovered a hole in it. Right in the centre of the front. No hiding that! It is a fairly neat hole so I wonder if I have actually cut one of the loops whilst I have been sewing and not noticed. I have checked all over and can’t find any more so I don’t think it’s moth. I loved this sweater but it had got a bit large (I have shrunk a bit but not too much so I think it has grown), and it was a pretty expensive Rowan yarn so I am thinking of pulling this out to re-knit. Kate from Fabrickated has been knitting lately, and seeing all of her posts relating to knitting has been making me want to start a new project so maybe I should concentrate on this.

 

Tea and warm crust. Yum!

Tea and warm crust. Yum!

Thankfully not everything has been working against me. My sourdough starter, from which I make bread and cakes, has been behaving beautifully. I may just be imagining it but I find sour dough bread easier to digest than store bought bread – maybe something to do with being allowed to take ages to go through the making process? Anyway, my loaves came out of the oven in fine shape, and since The Management wasn’t around I got first dibs on the still warm crust with butter. Delicious!

So, maybe I just need to be better organised and that darned Gremlin will move out!


Toni Goes to Birmingham

I’m accepting a lot more invitations for days out these days, and yesterday was a real treat. I was in Birmingham (again) with a group of lovely ladies (and two honorary ladies for the day 😉 ) on a  shopping and eating day organised by the lovely Demented Fairy. She had suggested in a comment that I wore Toni on our day out, and that seemed like an ideal opportunity to get some unbiased judgments on the dress.

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The Group photo post lunch

The general opinion was positive – but we all agree that the ‘side bits’ on the dress are ‘corners not cowls’. I’m quoting directly there. One lady even noted the pattern details as she intends to make some for herself so it can’t have looked too bad. I did add sleeves to the basic pattern as I thought it would be more useful here in the UK in Autumn/Winter. Ruth did the same on her last incarnation at Core Couture which gave me the idea. I just used a basic rectangle the length I wanted and the width of the sleeve opening, narrowing it a bit at the wrist end. Not hard to do but makes the pattern even more useful to me. Sorry the scarf hides that wonderful neckline!

I was surprisingly comfortable all day, and after getting used to the feel of the dress on the back of my calves actually forgot about it! I really need to wear more dresses and skirts.

Anyway, the shopping!

Fairy bought some wonderful fabric and has plans for all of it already. Check out her account of the day and see her haul on her blog HERE . I got off very lightly  was very well behaved and only bought stuff I knew I needed for other projects. The lining is for my coat – how good is that match! The buttons were bought with assistance from Glenda. I wanted something ‘quality’ but that wouldn’t impose any rules on the coat and these were fabulous. Real metal, and only 60p each. The zippers were only £1 each and I intend to shorten some to fit the Ziggi jacket that has been in the queue for and eternity (or so it seems). The patterns weren’t really needed but there is a 1/2 price sale on Vogue patterns at the moment and I had been lusting after these for a while.

So I am a bit closer to having everything ready for the coat, I just need to settle on a design and get going once I have finished Nell.