These truly are strange times. I’m fairly happy being restricted to house rules but I’ve had one or two dodgy days so have enormous sympathy for those who are finding this difficult.
I’m still keeping pretty busy, lots of projects that have been planned for ‘ever’ are rising to the surface – but like many people who can sew I’m making scrubs for the NHS.
I know there have been queries as to why they are so short of scrubs and saw an excellent explanation by a doctor on Facebook today. As she pointed out (and I confess hadn’t occurred to me) anyone in the hospitals who would have previously worn their own clothes is now wearing them as their own clothing is unlikely to cope with the 60degree washes deemed necessary. Makes sense. There was more to it than that but that was the heart.
Anyway, I have been using a zero waste pattern which has been shared by Danielle Elsener of Decode. It might take a little longer to sew than some scrubs but is elegantly fitted into the fabric to create the garments without the tons of scrap you get from some patterns. The pattern is available here. I’m not able to spend all day sewing like I did in my past, nor so I want to, but if I can contribute to help the medics I’m happy to do so.
I’m also started on a new jumper – the second incarnation of the Purl Soho Ribbed Raglan Pullover. The yarn is from a jumper I made way back in 2014 and blogged here. I always loved the design but this yarn knitted up a bit lacking in substance, it always felt a bit feeble. As a result it hasn’t been worn much so I’m unravelling it quietly in my work room out of the way of The Management – he gets unreasonably upset by me pulling out something he knows has taken a fair time to knit. I already know from the little I have got done so far that I’m much happier with the way this is knitting up.
Between sewing, knitting, gardening, and general domestic dark arts my time seems to be very well filled. Add to that yoga and art classes using Zoom and I’m sorted. It will be good to get out and see friends again – I think The Management will be happy for me to have another victim to hug.
The other thing I’ve been doing this week is sharing crosswords long distance with Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial. She has been starting them in Sydney and then sending me photos of the grid and clues to see how much I can do. Between us we’ve been doing pretty well, and it has made me feel much less isolated. Who knew that I would gain this from blogging!
I have been knitting this jumper for what feels like forever between other projects. It’s been finished a while, and waited patiently for a decent photo to be taken. Since that didn’t happen please forgive the quick picture taken with my Kindle.
In the interests of reducing stash I dug deep and found this lovely cashmere and wool mix bought at Colourmart way back in 2017 (post here). I wish I could say that it has reduced the stash by a large percentage but I’m afraid there’s still lots left. More fun for later 😉.
The pattern is the Ribbed Raglan Pullover by Purl Soho. I have used their patterns before and found them to be well written and easy to follow. This one was very appealing because, like some of the Elizabeth Zimmerman jumpers I’ve made, it starts from the neckline. When you aren’t entirely confident about the amount of yarn you have this seems like a good option as you can always make it shorter if needed. The pattern had options for different sleeve lengths too which I may use next time ….. because there will definitely be another of these made.
Despite the start to this post this isn’t a terribly difficult knit. It can occasionally get a little dull – there’s lots of ribbing to be knitted here – but once you’ve got below the arms it becomes a great tv project.
I didn’t want the cast offs to look like the usual ‘hand knits’ on this so I spent a considerable time doing a sewn bind off. A considerable time. I’m glad to say it looks great, and I have worn this a fair amount since it was completed. If I’m being picky I could probably go down a size but I didn’t want the ribbing to be very stretched over my bust. Never a great look in my opinion.
I’m already looking hard at a jumper I knitted some time ago and haven’t really enjoyed as a candidate for unravelling and re knitting in this pattern. The Management will shudder to see that happening but understands my reasoning. I might still try to arrange to do the unravelling while he’s busy elsewhere 😂.
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
Anyone who knows me will confirm that I am no Marie Kondo. I do try to keep things moderately under control but honestly, I’m failing miserably! I can’t believe just how much stuff I have accumulated. And I’m not just talking sewing and knitting stash (though that is pretty embarrassing) – all round the house things are running wild.
How many face washes do you need? Certainly not the three opened ones that I have, and also three bottles of moisturiser – one in use and the other two obviously bought in readiness. And don’t even ask about opened hand creams. Or lipsticks.
I’ll conceded that some of the stuff waiting for action is not ‘going to go off’, and will be used in it’s turn, but I really need to start using this lot before I buy ANYTHING else! I assumed that I would be a more considered shopper now that I allegedly have more time but I clearly need to work on that skill!
Whilst cleaning, and also slight clearance, in the room that bears the worst of my fabric buying excess I did manage to make things look better – fabric folded and put away properly or bagged ready to be passed onto the art teacher that takes my scrap, patterns tidied up , and magazines tidied into their respective boxes. All looking better – but how did I convince myself I have no UFO’s? Actually they technically aren’t UFO’s as they haven’t been started. I did read a lovely term for my problem which I’m afraid I’ve forgotten – but they are basically aspirational projects that I still want to make but aren’t anywhere near being made yet. A horrifying amount of them. Oh dear.
So, it’s agreed. I really need to stop buying yarn and fabric, also patterns, and start making up the projects I have waiting. With that in mind I gathered everything I needed (all available) to start another Purl Soho Botanical Yoke sweater. I had bought the yarn at Colourmart ages ago, the pattern had already been tested and worn here so I knew I liked it enough to repeat the experience. I started knitting whilst watching TV (loosely, as you need to concentrate at this point) and once past the first few rows I was happy I wasn’t knitting with a twist in the round so it has been nice to sit and enjoy the quiet of the project while I relax in the evening.
All was going well then? It was….
Until I visited a Scrap Store. I had been a little envious of the ‘op shops’ and ‘reverse garbage’ opportunities that seemed to be available in Australia – so many of the blogs refer to many of their ‘makes’ being from things rescued from landfill. The attitude to re-use seems to be much better there. I was confident that there wasn’t anything like that in the UK – the resale shops are called ‘charity’ shops here and don’t seem to have the same cachet that overseas equivalents have. Anyhoo, not to be put off I Googled a query and came up with Scrap Stores. I’m in the fortunate position of having several within easy reach, but my most local was the Worcester Resource Exchange. We were in that area last Saturday so I called in ‘just for a look’. Of course.
It was both fascinating and horrifying. There was stuff that you wondered if anyone would buy (only to hear people excitedly squeak when they found it!), and things you really wondered how you could justify taking them home. The Management was in the car so it wasn’t going to be easy to sneak things by him!
I was sunk when I saw the lovely bright merino wool felt – bags perhaps?, or maybe it could be used as a more exciting under collar on a tailored jacket? The stretch lace was completely unnecessary – I have a bag full of bits and pieces trawled from the Rag Market with the intention of making lingerie (another one of those aspirational projects) but I couldn’t resist. There were also lots of art supplies that I was seriously tempted by but I would have needed to find the bin marked ‘an extra day in the week’ even though I’m retired.
In another box I saw a load of used patterns, sorted by decade but just a lovely jumble to be looked through. And found four Vogue Designer Original patterns that I really liked. I swear that there were more but I didn’t just sweep them all up.
Who could have left Christian Dior – Vogue 1755, (in size 12 so I can probably make it up straight from the envelope although I haven’t done any thinking about fabrics yet), or Stan Herman 2057 – new to me but I love this dress shape, Diane Von Furstenberg 2065 – another very wearable dress, and lastly and Edith Head 1895 – I’m not entirely certain I would wear this but I do like it so it came home. Can I also say that after deducting my annual membership from what I paid this lot came to under £20. I’m afraid I will be back.
Yes, as you can see I am definitely cleaning and clearing. Just not my house. I hope to make use of all of these patterns – and a whole lot more that I have with plans attached to them! I really do need to get stuck in. I’ll be back eventually when I have something to show – but for now I’m off to knit while I calm my nerves 😉
Back again – and still in an uber relaxed frame of mind with what seemed like very little done until I decided to start a post. My sewing mojo is still missing but I’m assuming that it’s a reaction to being obliged to ‘sew to order’ for so long. It will be back. I think.
The Management and I spent a lovely few days early in the month in London. This had been planned for an age so the fact that I was hobbling around in a protective boot wasn’t going to stop us – we just rejigged the plans a bit.
We started with a trip to the London Transport Museum. This was largely for himself but I really enjoyed it. This was helped by there being a lovely art exhibition called ‘Sounds of the City’. Loads of gorgeous pictures but I particularly liked this one – I’m still wondering what noise rain would make when you drag something across it. Any ideas?
The other great find was a picture depicting my closest city – Worcester! I’m a bit put out that the resident inland seagulls aren’t in there – they are definitely one of the most obvious noises almost anywhere in Worcester. They seem to be moving into Bewdley too so it sometimes sounds as though you are at the seaside here too. More pictures in the Flickr album.
The following day was spent almost entirely at the V&A. We had members early entry into the Pink Floyd exhibition. This was well worth booking – and almost worth paying membership just to get in on a quiet time. The Management really enjoyed this, and I was surprised quite much I enjoyed too. I can’t claim to be the biggest Floyd fan – I do enjoy the music but it’s rarely something I pick out myself – but I thoroughly enjoyed the whole ‘art and music’ ethos that they seem to have. I have put more photographs onto my Flickr page here but for a quick squint here are three of my favourites. You have until 1st October if you want to get along to see this.
Obviously as I was at the V&A I wasn’t going to miss the current Balenciaga exhibition. The Management went off to do his own thing while I spent time in here. I had just read the wonderful book Balenciaga, The making of a Master (HOW MUCH FOR THE BOOK !?!) so I was looking forward to seeing the actual garments. Sadly my pictures weren’t great but I have put a few here, and again a link to more on Flickr.
It was pretty busy, and I was still in my boot, so I was running out of steam by the end of this exhibition. There were some fabulous garments – and videos running to show the method of cutting the patterns or adding the hidden support. All of the downstairs was dedicated to the man himself and was wonderful. Lots of inspirational garments – something which was born out when I got upstairs and found it full of garments inspired by him. Some were too close to being a ‘copy’ in my opinion but many were absolutely gorgeous – and although very different you could see the influence there. My favourite was probably the almost unwearable ‘snake dress’ – how gorgeous is that?( I won’t be offended if you say not at all!). The exhibition is going to be in place until February 2018 so I am hoping to be able to go again and maybe get more out of another visit.
Any sewing yourself Kim? Well actually yes. But only a little bit. I have been wearing a load of t-shirts (well, not just t-shirts if I’m honest) that are a bit too big and I have been getting a bit fed up about it. After all, I’m a bl**dy dressmaker! Anyhoo, I knew I had this fine jersey in the stash which had been waiting an unreasonable time to be made up and decided it was time. These have both been worn and washed multiple times now. Having a couple of well fitting t-shirts now just makes me aware of how big the others are. Prepare for a major clear out.
That has been the only sewing I have done but I have actually done a fair quantity of knitting and have finished the Purl Soho Circular Yoke Summer Shirt. I used the cashmere yarn set that I bought at Colourmart a while back and I have to say I love it. It was a joy to knit (two strands at once makes it 4 ply) and was so light it seemed to last forever. In fact I had intended to blend the colours up through the yoke but ended up making it all in the mulberry colour. Sadly I have just realised I don’t have a picture so you will have to take my word for the moment about how lovely it is.
As a fabulous finale to the month I went here…….
…….to meet someone very special.
No. I didn’t go on a bear hunt – I was searching a very different and altogether more secretive animal. More news in my next post.
Yet again time has flown by without my noticing. March is a distant memory, and April is already well advanced – how come?!
I really have been sewing and knitting between just chilling and enjoying trips out with The Management. Evidence below.
Firstly we have a really grotty photograph (why does flash make it look so bad?) of The Management wearing the shirt made from the fabric bought from Mood Fabrics in New York. I used the self drafted pattern which has been made multiple times now and is very easy for me to knock out. I struggled a bit to find buttons that worked on this fabric until I turned one of my stash buttons upside down and discovered that it was perfect. I even had enough of them. Score!
This has been worn on so many occasions now that I can confirm that it is (apparently) very comfortable, and washes like a dream. He claims that it is the most comfortable in his wardrobe so I must have got something right. If you have an amazing memory I did wonder who’s fabric would be made up first. His, but I have cut out my jeans from the pin striped denim. They are waiting in a queue at the moment.
Remember the Purl Soho Botanical Yoke sweater ? Finished, worn, and loved. How gorgeous is this? This version was made in Drops cotton light and is perfect for right now but I really do want to knit another version in the recommended Cashmere and Merino mix. The actual yarn from Purl Soho is fabulous but I saw Colourmart in Shrewsbury mentioned in Kate from Fabrickateds blog and decided to check them out. Am I glad I did! I am lucky enough to live close enough to visit the unit they trade from and meet the lovely Sue. She showed me around in an attempt to find a yarn I liked but I got completely overwhelmed and had to come away just with samples to try before committing. I was even given a swift lesson in how to Navajo ply the yarn to bring it up to the thickness I needed. What service! The yarn I think I am going with is a very dark blue, almost black, wool/cashmere mix which will need to be knitted using my new knowledge. Now that I know about Colourmart, and know I can collect orders from them if I am visiting Shrewsbury (and let’s face it – I can think of many excuses to do that!), I will definitely be using their services. Thanks Kate for drawing them to my attention. I even got this finished before The Management and I managed to sneak away to Cornwall for a week. Doesn’t it look good by the sea? (I ask because I want to go back again. And again..) The bucket hats I made from Rhondas blog got good use in the sunshine that week too 🙂 . The jumper was perfect because although the sun was shining magnificently there was a chill in the breeze. Well it is just April!
In my last post I showed some fabrics I had bought from Barrys bargain table. This grey was on there, and was described as ottoman but I didn’t get the exact fibre composition. There is a lot of stretch along the length of the fabric, and the stripes went across the width. I decided I preferred it turned sideways and there didn’t seem to be any reason why I shouldn’t. The pattern is very simple but I took issue with the idea that the neckline and armholes should just be turned and stitched so I used a self bias tape to neaten and finish them. I’m very happy with the result despite feeling like a dwarf after taking 5″ out from the length! The Management likes this too so there are certainly more in my future.
I made another version of Butterick 6388 , again dress length. You might recognise this as a piece from the last Birmingham trip too. This was a sample piece from the jersey stall that had a whopping great hole in the middle. I wasn’t certain this would fit from the piece but I managed to squeak it out. Again, I have worn this multiple times since I finished it. I put a very fine knitted interfacing into the collar this time as the others weren’t standing quite as as wanted them to. I’m much happier now. I think this piece cost me about £4 so I think I have a very good value dress now – only the thread and interfacing to add to that cost and that must have been pennies. Although we are now (allegedly) into Spring here in the UK I can imagine I will still get a bit more use out of this before it gets too warm.
Well I managed to actually make up two of the six pieces of fabric I bought in Birmingham before I went back and was led totally astray again by Fairy. Look at this lot! We did have another lovely day and it seemed rude not to join in the fabric buying. There is so much there that I’m not going to show it all this time – but I do promise to post again soon so you can see my treasure!
I have pre-washed all of this now so it is ready to use, I even have an idea of how I am going to use some of it. Whisper it but there is in excess of 12m in there. Well in excess. Oh my.
Till next time.
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!
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!
My 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.
Having 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.