Yup, I know it’s been a while. I’m not even going to try to apologise because I know it’s been far too long. I have been trying to decide whether to even continue blogging – this is what happens when you leave things too long.
Anyway, updates. In the gap I became sixty years old, and my mum died. I’m an elderly orphan. She was really unhappy in her final months so I think it was the right time for her – maybe we all get to know when we’ve had enough. Her dying has reminded me that I need to make the most of my time. That sometimes means opting out of doing anything at all and I’m ok with that.
I have been sewing (a very little – mainly repairs), knitting – always relaxing since it was never a job, and joined an art class. WHAT!?!?! YES. An art class. After not being allowed to study art at school after I was 13 years old I’m doing it just for me. I’m not convinced I have any talent but that’s not the point.
After spending so much time sewing for others I’m still not entirely enthusiastic about sewing for me but I think that may be coming back. Maybe. I’m reading pattern cutting books again, and I’m shuffling the stash and remembering what I wanted to make with it. I’m still slightly horrified at how much fabric I have so maybe that alone will make me sew again!
So what might I be able to share here? Maybe some of the clothes I’ve had planned but not executed for years. Maybe some of the pattern cutting howlers there are bound to be as I get back to that. Hopefully one or two successes. I used to be good at this and I need to remind myself of that.
Why am I even thinking of blogging again? I have had contact with some fabulous people via blogging over the years and really appreciate that. Some I have even been lucky enough to meet in person. None have disappointed. You are wonderful people out there in blogland. I have been made aware of new patterns, new companies, and new techniques from the blogs I have been reading. If I ever pass on anything useful that would make me happy.
If you’re still reading this ….. thank you. If you’re still following me after not posting for ages …… a bigger thank you. And I promise it won’t be so long until I post again.
Yup, almost a whole month since my last post a pretty much all I have to show for it is an exhausted demeanor and a sofa full of cushions. I’m afraid I went for the (very) easy option as my brain seems to have gone away altogether. Everything is feeling like hard work at the moment. I have actually cut out a pair of pj’s but they aren’t coming together at any rate at all. So please admire the cushions.
Ok? They don’t all live on that sofa all of the time but I grouped them for the photo.
I have also managed to finish the EZKAL from Kates blog. You might remember from my last post that this has ended up too wide across the front neckline for me (picture here) so I needed to pull the knitting back to just above where I joined the sleeves on. I have to confess that I left this for a ridiculous amount of time as I simply didn’t have the brainpower to handle what needed to be done. When I eventually DID get around to it the task was nowhere near as difficult as I anticipated.
Using pattern cutting, and previous knitting, knowledge I decided I needed to reduce the stitches low in the raglan shaping to take the excess away from the point above the bust. Not hard, I just increased the decrease rate to every row rather than alternates until I had reduced by the number of stitches to reduce the neck appropriately. I wanted the neckline to be a little away from the neck ( more boat rather than a little round jewel neckline) so tried the jumper on a couple of times to get the position about right. It is probably still a little higher than I really wanted it but I wasn’t prepared to pull down again.
I’m pretty happy with this frankly ridiculous garment, and I know I will wear it a lot. I would have preferred not to have the camel colour as the ribs and by my face but it was the colour with the largest quantity available so hey ho. It is longer than I expected which is odd since I was using the same measurements that I used for the pink alpaca sweater but I’m happy. It is also a bit bigger than expected too – maybe using the acrylic made my gauge a little ‘off’ – but over all I can’t say I’m upset about that. I have to say thank you to Kate for introducing me to the Elizabeth Zimmerman system of knitting as I’m really enjoying her methods.
I’m on a promise to make another of these for my daughter now and hopefully it will take less time than this one. There’s a reasonable amount of decent tv at present so once I have set up it should be a good mindless knit.
Hopefully I will manage to achieve more in September than I have in the past few months but I’m making no promises. I hope you’re achieving more than I am. It wouldn’t be difficult 😦
….. at least for The Managements quilt. You might remember that this was started an age ago, took way longer than I expected to cut and sew the topper, and I gained speed whilst hand quilting the layers together listening to audio books from the library. I finished this a little while ago but circumstances have been such that I didn’t get a photograph. So here it is. Ta dah!
As you may recall this was inspired by the Bridget Riley picture ‘Nataraja’. Himself chose the fabric for the topper, and I was left to make something that looked a little like the original – but not a ‘faithful copy’. I’m pretty happy with this as my first attempt at quilting, and although I’m in no hurry to repeat the experience I’m no longer totally averse to the idea.
The circumstances I referred to earlier have been that my mum has been in hospital for about five to six weeks and was unable to go back to the circumstances she was living in before. Cue a mad rush to redecorate and carpet a little apartment in an extra care facility with five days to complete the work and have enough of her belongings moved in for her to get by. And then empty her bungalow.
Wow. She has always been very clean and tidy so it came as a complete shock to discover that every cupboard and drawer had been filled to busting. It turned out to be a much bigger job than my sister and I expected. Despite that I have enjoyed my time with my sister, and visits laden down like a pack horse to mum with extra stuff. I’m pleased to say she is in and fairly comfortable now – and has already tested out the care staff by falling off the bed! They responded admirably so I know we have made the right decision.
I had been getting on well with the EZKAL from Kates blog but that came to a total halt when I needed to go to Northumberland. It was, in fact, just after I had discovered that the raglan decreases were a bit too slow across the front for me and that I need to pull the bodice section out and start again once I have done some calculations. I realised that if I got to the width I wanted I would lose the opportunity to have a boat neckline rather than a jewel neckline. I did take a picture to check it so I will show my progress so far. I’m pretty happy with how it’s looking, and have already agreed to make another for my daughter in yarn from stash in a strawberry pink and off white.
I’m actually starting to itch to sew now – I keep looking at fabrics in the stash with a view to getting started. I also want to make some cushion covers for my front room (I already have the fillers). I wonder what will win?
Anyway, a word about stash – and all those other things we hoard. After my experience this last couple of weeks I will be clearing some of mine out and I suggest you look closely at yours – unless you want your kids to curse you when it comes for them to do it!
I promise a less rushed post next time. In the meantime enjoy your days – whatever you have planned.
As I said in my last post I was nominated for a Mystery Blogger Award by the lovely Linda at Nice dress! I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do it justice that day so here is the separate post.
“Mystery Blogger Award is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging, and they do it with so much love and passion.” Created by: Okoto Enigma
Here are “The Rules” to the “Mystery Blogger Award”:
- Thank whoever nominated you and include a link to their blog
- Tell your readers three things about yourself
- Answer the questions from the person who nominated you
- Nominate 10 – 20 bloggers you feel deserve the award
- Ask your nominees 5 questions of your choice, with one weird or funny one
- Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog
So, thank you Linda! I did include a link in my last post but just in case you missed it you can find her HERE
Three things about me? Hmmm…. not much that’s not known since I’ve been blogging for what seems like forever.
Ok… I used to get told off by my primary school teacher for sewing with raffia beneath my desk when
we I should have been concentrating on what was being taught BUT that wasn’t the first sewing I am told about. Apparently my mother would thread a load of needles an let me sew buttons all over an old shirt to keep me occupied. Dad was tasked with removing them before the exercise was repeated the following day.(Good preparation for being a professional).
I love driving – though it took two attempts to pass my driving test (a very long time ago!). I will drive almost anything and did go from a large pick-up truck (used to facilitate my carriage driving hobby) to a Smart car when I no longer had my horses. Unfortunately I drove my dear little Smart like I stole it and almost killed it off. Apologies to who ever bought it after it was traded in….
Despite loving animals I am allergic to animal hair and suffer from hay fever. Not ideal when you were keeping horses, and two Siamese cats and a dog. I always try to take rescue animals rather than buying from breeders as there are so many out there – and apart from one completely bonkers Siamese cat I have always had great success in achieving friendly, affectionate animals. Sadly I have no animals at present.(Excluding The Management ).
Now to answer Linda’s questions.
- If you won a lottery what would you buy first?
A flat/apartment for my daughter when lives in London. The cost of property in her area is mind boggling – and even renting in a flat share is horrific. It would be a real joy to be able to set her up somewhere of her own . (No fabric – I have enough and The Management may leave. Although maybe I could set him up in an…no only kidding).
- Do you like turnips?
Love them – although there’s some dispute as to what is a turnip and what is a swede. I like them both. As an aside for any Americans I used to have a carved turnip for Halloween as I hadn’t actually seen a real pumpkin at that time. I loved the smell you got with a candle burning inside.
- Who started you with sewing?
Probably my mum. Though I broke loose and exceeded her ability fairly quickly as she stuck to the same patterns for me for years. It wasn’t until after I did my City and Guilds qualifications that she confessed to hating sewing.
- How many sewing/serger/coverstitch machines do you have, what kind are they and what are their names (if they have names)?
I have three elderly Singers, two hand crank and one treadle. All were in need of tlc on arrival and are now working just fine. There is another electric vintage which was found in a loft completely seized up but working well now.
My main machine is a Pfaff computerised whizz which I was terrified of for months when I bought it – I love it now but I think the Singer buttonhole attachment gives more reliable results.
I have a Janome backup machine which I didn’t use for an age and was very impressed with it when I finally did need it.
My overworked and much loved overlocker is a Juki. I hadn’t heard of the brand when i bought it but wouldn’t hesitate to recommend, or buy another when I need to.
The most recent new machine is my Janome coverstitcher. Only does one job, not an essential machine – but you will have to prise it from my cold dead grasp. Love it.
So that’s …… too many machines according to The Management. I sort of agree as i am currently trying to condense my mum’s belongings into a much smaller space and don’t want my daughter to have all of this to deal with eventually. I did give a couple of the Singers names but don’t as a rule.
- What was the worst sewing project you ever worked on and why?
Oh, after over twenty years of sewing for other people they are too numerous to count (one day I will do a post on life as a professional dressmaker just in case anyone is considering it…). It would probably have involved really ratty fabric (“but it cost a FORTUNE!”), or unrealistic expectations (I’m a dressmaker not a wizard), or just a ridiculously short deadline.
So for my nominations I choose in no particular order:
So, for their questions…..
- Do you read, and if yes what is your favourite book?
- What is your favourite ice cream flavour?
- What is your favourite season, and why.
- Do you prefer to sew in silence or with entertainment of some sort.
- Would you sing karaoke, and what song?
So that’s me done. Hopefully my nominees will play along, but if you haven’t already visited their sites I recommend that you do! They are all very inspiring people.
Bye for now
Summer has arrived here in the UK – not sneaking in slowly to give us any opportunity to get used to it but arriving with a BANG! In UK terms it has been unbelievably
warm hot for what feels like weeks and there is no sign of rain at all so it can only be a matter of time before someone starts bleating about hosepipe bans. Actually there is a bit of 1976 about this weather……
Anyhoo, the knitting is sticking to the needles at the moment even though I am using talcum powder to try to keep my hands dry. Despite that I have been making progress on the Elizabeth Zimmerman KAL that Kate is hosting. I was determined to knit with what I had in stash – and since there were stripes suggested it gave me the opportunity to go a little wild. The Management said that the sleeves looked like a minor football teams away strip to begin with but changed to just sniggering as they got longer. He now confesses to quite liking them. What do you think? (Be honest – it isn’t going to change things at all and I have broad shoulders so I can take it 😉 )
The quilt is making good progress too. I now have all of the ‘done’ section rolled such that all that is left to do shows the finishing line. TM comes in occasionally to check on progress and seems happy. I’m very happy to be in the workroom as it is downstairs and is beautifully cool by comparison with the rest of the house at the moment. I think this will work very well as a solo cover on our bed when it’s as hot as this. Must get a move on and finish the hand quilting so I can get the bindings done.
In the way of delightedly retired people we have also had a few trips out. The first was very local – the newly re-opened Royal Worcester porcelain museum. It was both wonderful and very quiet. If you are in the area it’s worth an hour or so of your time.
We also celebrated a significant Wedding Anniversary recently and had a meal at a lovely place near Abergavenny. Having got that far TM said we might just as well have a couple of nights away in Swansea – ulterior motive already spotted since I knew he wanted to visit the birthplace of Dylan Thomas.
Even if you have absolutely no interest in poetry or Dylan Thomas the house was magnificent. It had been renovated by the current owner (a big Dylan fan) to a brilliant standard and was a joy to wander around. It reminded me a little of an elderly aunts house from my childhood.
The weather was stunning and we enjoyed a wonderful day just wandering around Mumbles, and the on to Rhosilli which was just beautiful. I definitely want to go back and spend longer. I wouldn’t even mind if the weather wasn’t quite so stunning (I did get an uncharacteristic sunburn – I’m usually very very careful as I am so fair skinned). Check out these magnificent views.
I know there was a fair walk to get down onto that fabulous beach but really, it was almost deserted! I’ve been a bit biased about Northumbrian beaches in the past but this one was well up on my favourite beaches list.
It’s been wonderful here (and there!) since my last post – and to top it all I was nominated for a Mystery Blogger Award by Linda who blogs HERE
I will respond to this in another post when I can do it justice. Thank you Linda!
Off now to
keep cool do some more hand quilting. Whatever you are doing, and in whatever conditions, I hope you are enjoying it.
Remember me? Yes, it’s been a while.
Much to my surprise I have been thoroughly enjoying the quilt. Yes. That quilt. And look – the topper is now big enough to fit the bed now – hurrah! I really didn’t think I was ever going to get to that point.
In fairness that did throw up a whole other set of dilemmas – the main one being how to actually ‘quilt’ the wretched thing. So many people had advised against hand quilting that I really shouldn’t have considered it – but I did and eventually decided that it was the way I wanted to go.
Those pieces have taken an age to put together, and I would love to say that all of the joins are perfect but they aren’t. Also, the nature of the design meant that there are areas where the stitching would go across blocks of darker colour and I decided that I really didn’t want the stitching to be very noticeable. So ……. hand quilting it is.
I have moved my cutting table from the (darker) back room to a position in front of my work room window which is beautifully bright. I can work there until fairly late in the evening at the moment without any problem. I have also
nicked borrowed The Managements Pilates ball so I’m sitting better whilst working. These steps, and the discovery of Audio books from my local library, mean that I can quite happily spend a couple of hours (or more!) zenned out while I hand quilt. Who ever would have expected that to happen!
Anyway, as a result of that (and the fact that the Football World Cup is about to start) means that I am making good progress on the quilt, and expect to continue to do so. I’m not sewing anything else at the moment but I really feel that I about ready to consider sewing again from a much happier place.
You might remember the alpaca yarn I showed in my last post which is now a completed sweater. I followed the most basic of the Elizabeth Zimmerman designs and have been very happy with the results. I’m slightly surprised at just how warm and heavy this turned out to be – and I shouldn’t show any surprise that completion coincided with the change in the weather here in the UK so it is now way too warm to wear this! Never mind, I’m quite certain that it will be well worn in due course.
I enjoyed the whole Elizabeth Zimmerman method of knitting (Pattern – what pattern?) and when Kate publicised on her blog HERE that she was willing to arrange a KAL (knit – along) using the EZ methods for a raglan sweater I was very happy to join. I am just using as much of the scrap yarn (of the same type) that I have left from previous projects so it isn’t going to be a classy knit! Since I’m hardly a classy dame I really don’t care 😉
We managed to slip a quick week away to Puglia in Italy a couple of weeks ago and had a very fine time. Those who follow me on instagram (@kimthemateriallady) will have already seen some pictures. We were very much in need of sunshine – which arrived in the UK just as we were packing the case. Thankfully it hung around and we are still enjoying it.
Italy, and particularly Puglia (since that was where we were) was fantastic. We generally ate and drank too much, and smiled a massive amount which has made our smile wrinkles even deeper which troubles me not one jot. I don’t often buy mementos of holidays as they are so frequently regretted on return but I was delighted to find these pieces of jewelry in Vieste. It looks quite heavy but is actually aluminium so it is fabulously light – and was hand made by the gentleman I bought them from. Better and better – and worn frequently since return.
The wonderful weather has meant that the wild flowers are looking wonderful – and I was particularly waiting for the elder flower so that I could make cordial. I was a little late making this for the first time last year from THIS RECIPE. It was delicious – and even freezes so you can save some for when winter all seems to be getting too miserable as it tastes like bottled sunshine. I managed to pick sufficient for a double batch on a fabulously sunny afternoon and now have it safely tucked away. I’m keeping note of the elder bushes I see as I also have a recipe (untried) for elderberry cordial which is supposed to be really beneficial to health in the winter.
Oh heavens, I appear to be turning into ‘The Wise Woman’. Take no notice of me.
The Management was all ready to go down to the museum a little while back and I took advantage of the moment to take a picture of him in full shelter regalia. Not meant to be actually 1940’s kit – just inspired by. The only new thing is the sweater I knitted. We have been fortunate enough to find everything else in Charity (Op) shops, or from the clothing he already had. Doesn’t he look cute?
I will try not to leave it quite so long before I report in again – but as you can see I haven’t been (totally) slacking. And the garden aint looking too bad either.
I’m still in a ‘no-sew’ mode so progress on anything is very slow. I have started to feel just the merest stirrings of a sewing urge so I’m hopeful of something to show you guys sometime soon!
I have, however, been knitting. I have finished the Purl Soho Botanical Yoke sweater that I was making. Hurrah! Pictures and details….
You may remember that back in the mists of time I bought this gorgeous yarn from Colourmart. It was very fine and needed to be ‘navajo plyed’. If you need information of this click HERE . Basically this meant that the fine 80%Merino/20%Cashmere I had chosen was used three strands at once which brought the yarn weight up to be perfect for my sweater.
Now all of the yarn from Colourmart is actually intended for industry rather than hand knitting (not that that is an issue!) and comes on cones. After spending an unreasonable amount of time chasing the cone around the floor I came up with this rather odd looking but very effective way to cope. The cone is sitting on top of an egg cup, which in turn is sitting on top of my kitchen paper holder. Not pretty but very effective in allowing the cone to spin freely as I pulled on the yarn. That speeded things up significantly 🙂 .
Having said that, this isn’t a particularly ‘quick’ project. All of that knit 2 purl 2 rib gets old pretty quickly, and when you get to the exciting part on the cabled yoke it can get a bit tricky. Cabling ’24’ is a bit, well…… tricky. And not entirely easy to knit. Fortunately you only need to do that massive cable twice. Things get much easier after that.
Another feature of Colourmart yarns is that they are treated to run smoothly through industrial knitting machines. That makes them a bit firmer knitted up before they are given a bath. I did wear my sweater a few times before I washed it and found the polo neck a little bit ‘scratchy. I washed it by hand so that it didn’t all go horribly wrong in the machine and it has softened up nicely. It took AGES to dry as it has been so cold and damp here in the UK. I think we are all desperate for some consistently warm (and sunny… please!) weather. Anyway I am counting this as a win and I’m sure I will get lots of opportunities to wear it .Through our ENGLISH SUMMER 😦
I have been trying to clear things around the house. You know, those odd jobs that I have been trying to ignore, all the things I would rather not do … so I haven’t. It’s been the equivalent of the ‘crate of shame’ or the ‘drawer of doom’ where sewing projects go to be ignored. Some of you with very good memories will remember the quilt I started to commemorate The Managements 60th birthday. I confess some time has passed since then and the quilt has been largely ignored. Actually not true, I snarl at it every time I have to move it to get to something I want in the sewing room. Well bullets needed to be bitten and I have got the whole lot out again into a much more prominent position so that I am totally shamed into getting on. It has grown fairly well over the last couple of weeks (hey! I have been sewing!) and I am starting to feel that it might actually become a functioning quilt. I did have a short time when I considered the whole thing ‘migraine inducing’ but the colours and patterns seem to be settling down as they get bigger. I still feel unbelievably stupid for taking on such a large and complicated project as my first attempt at quilting. Hey ho.
One of the things I have been enjoying very much of late is baking sourdough bread. Celia recommended ‘Artisan Sourdough made Simple’ by Emilie Raffa a while back and I really love this book. If you love sourdough and don’t have it yet I heartily recommend it. There hasn’t been a dud recipe yet, and Emilie blogs as The Clever Carrot so you can check her out there before investing if you don;t want to take my word! Not in the book but absolutely delicious were Celias Hot Cross Buns. Shared with friends (those that didn’t get scarfed down disgracefully quickly by Himself and I) they were a roaring success and will be made throughout the year without crosses and just called ‘buns’!
A few things have made my bread making more pleasurable recently. Firstly I reclaimed a electric heated pad which was bought years ago for an elderly Siamese cat I was slave to. She felt the cold something chronic so during the day (when she couldn’t sneak into bed and be my furry hot water bottle substitute) she enjoyed this. It did go off to my mothers elderly cat until her recent demise when it was returned. Mine looks a bit like this one and makes a great job of the ‘overnight rise’ when my kitchen is freezing. I do use it for the other rises at the moment as its still cold here. Once the sun starts to show its face again maybe the bread will manage without it. The next thing is the Lékué bread maker. No, not electric. This is a silicon bowl which you can use right from the start – measuring and mixing the dough, kneading, leaving to rise AND COOKING! Yup, this baby goes in the oven. And the dishwasher – I’m officially in love. Finally is a Lakeland Magic tray liner. Fabulous. Absolutely non-stick – even for the filled focaccia from Emilies book which stuck like to the tray like it would never come off just slid off this baby. Reusable and dishwasher friendly if needed – but it’s unlikely as it is so slippy and any residue just wipes off mine. I’ve used it about a dozen times at least and it still looks great. I would definitely buy this again but think it will be a while before I need to!
I have started knitting again. This time I’m knitting one of the basic Elizabeth Zimmerman yoked jumpers that I became aware of from Kate. I would have loved to join in her knit along but had other projects that made it difficult. I’m using some beautiful alpaca DK that I bought from the WRE It’s knitting up beautifully, and The Management (who has been helpful winding those skeins into balls) says he likes it because ‘it’s not a girly pink’. It’s still for me.
I had a lovely day out in Birmingham yesterday with Fairy and friends. It was unusually clement – sunshiny even (sadly didn’t last) – and we were able to enjoy a walk round the markets. Neither Fairy or I really needed to buy anything. We had both said so. So why did I come home with this length of African Wax Cloth? Other than the fact that the colours are absolutley fabulous, and will mix with a number of the fabrics already in my stash? Anyway it’s home now and I just have to locate that sewing mojo. Do send it back if you find it 😉
Enjoy life out there