Yup. It’s absolutely official after yesterday. But I do have mitigating circumstances M’Lud.
Ok, I need to explain myself. After The Management retired he started to volunteer at our lovely local museum and was given the job as the person in the air raid shelter who explains how the war affected Bewdley and the surrounding area. He did all of last summer wearing ‘civvies’ but it was discussed and decided that he really needed to wear something not exactly period but more in keeping with the time. And it’s often freezing in there so he needs to be warm too. So we were thinking something a bit like this maybe….
Well…. maybe not exactly like that but you get the idea. I did find another image which was full length but he looked a bit of a ‘spiv’. Anyway, the air raid shelter was originally built for the Post Office staff so maybe he would have been a Post Office Clerk, or since he’s The Management a Post Office Manager. This is getting a bit off topic.
Well I have wanted to use one of Elizabeth Zimmermans patterns for ages – Kate has been making some wonderful jumpers for herself here at Fabrickated . I managed to buy one book from Amazon, and got another from the library – EZ’s Knitting Workshop – which has a sweater that pretty much fits the bill for himself – check it out on Ravelry! And I get to use EZ’s methods. Score!
Well, I started looking for the shetland wool I wanted to make this in, located it online and costed the project, but left it unbought for now. Then what should happen but I get an email from the Worcester Resource Exchange to say they had lots of yarn for sale. It would have been rude not to go and…can you believe it! The exact same yarn at a third of the cost. Well, I couldn’t turn that down could I?
The colours go brilliantly with a tweed jacket we found in a local Charity Shop, and a tie bought from E-Bay (I can’t believe how difficult it has been to find a suitable tie!). All we need is a pair of shoes and suitable trousers to go with the sweater and he will be done.
While I was there some sock yarn jumped into my bag too. I couldn’t stop it! Honestly – just look! How beautiful is that? I’m hiding that for the time being.
I’m up to the armhole divide now on my Botanical Yoke sweater if I use the length given on the pattern. I’m tempted to add a little extra length but will try the red one on again before making a decision. I will have to put it to one side for the moment so that I can concentrate of getting the Fair Isle sweater ready for the museum season starting in March.
Better get a move on!
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 😉
… or rather Style Arcs to Australia.
Over some time I have been becoming aware of just how many Style Arc patterns I have admired through other sewists – in person or via blogs – and just how many I had bought. And left waiting for action.
Well, I did have a bit of a sewing flurry before I went to Australia and most were Style Arcs.
One of the most frustrating things before I went was deciding to shop for that most basic of garments – a simple white t-shirt. I must have wasted hours looking at and rejecting, even getting as far as trying on before I rejected. Why so difficult? I don’t like a very close round/jewel neckline but nor do I want to have a neckline so low I have to be aware of how I am standing/sitting. I wanted room for ‘the girls’ without flapping fabric over my hips. I wanted sleeves but not anything unusual – and no decoration. I eventually gave up and ordered some fabric from Tia Knight that was sufficient to cut three t-shirts from for a massive £15. The pattern was my basic t cut from my Kristina Shin book. It took significantly less time than I had spent shopping and I had a result I was happy with. So much so that I have decided that I need to make more in black and probably in both black and white with long sleeves for whilst it’s still cold. The photograph was from our time in Melbourne where we were able to have lunch on the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant. Great fun. If you get the opportunity have a meal on this – great food and you get to travel the city whilst you eat.
Our first stop after that was in Adelaide where I wore the Stacie jacket when we visited the Oval. This was made some time ago and is one of my favourite jackets. I see there is now also a ‘Stevie’ jacket which is described as oversized. Although it has more detail I think I prefer Stacie. Details from when I made this are here . I have this in orange too and though I considered taking that instead of the black I think I made the right choice, and as it was still Aussie spring it was cool enough often enough to make me glad I took this.
The first garment I made specifically with my trip in mind was Style Arc’s Blaire Shirt dress. I had the linen/cotton mix stripe in stash (there’s a surprise) and I knew it would be perfect. I chose the lilac for no other reason than I liked it. The pattern is perhaps a bit more ‘square’ in shape than I realised but I found it perfect for this occasion. It was probably in need of a cardi’ for the early breakfast in the outback (we were on the Ghan train and were woken early to watch the sun rise) but it was fine most other times – and it was worn lots. It survived getting soaked while I paddled at Bondi beach and still looked fairly respectable to the end of the holiday (unwashed I have to confess). Apart from maybe being able to cut a size smaller next time I don’t have any complaints about this pattern. Oh, apart from needing very long arms to get to the bottom of the pockets! I do intend to sew a seam across the pocket to stop everything going to the very bottom which should help in future.
I also made this up as the shirt, this time in a beige stripe. I wore this the day I went to meet Lesley (from SewNipTuck) and her husband Fergus in Manly who were both lovely, and it was great to be given a walking tour of Manly even though I had a sore foot/ankle which restricted it somewhat. The original pattern would have had this double layered beneath the seam midway down the body. I though this might be a bit much in this fabric so adapted the pattern so it’s just a single layer.I like it like that but would be prepared to try the original design in a finer fabric.
It was a funny moment when we realised we were both wearing Style Arc Barb trousers! I made mine in a brown linen stretch that had been in the stash for longer than was reasonable so I was very pleased that they were so well worn. Lesley had narrowed the legs on her pair, and turned up a cuff, which looked really good. I may steal that idea for another pair.
There’s another bloggers tale that goes with the Barb pattern. I got the pattern as a freebie (hurrah!) when I signed up for a newsletter from Style Arc. It languished in the computer until I decided I really needed to make some trousers – NOW!!!! Inevitably that is the moment you have problems. My file wouldn’t print properly so I sent an appeal to a couple of other people I thought had the pattern. Rhonda came through – but with a size 10. I was pretty confident I would need the 14 but she thought not. I cut a trial pair in some cheap stuff from the Rag Market with HUGE seam allowances so I could adjust. And adjust. They were massive. I made the linen up exactly as the pattern stated and they were great. If you haven’t tried Barb yet I strongly recommend you do!
I did meet Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial (who was just gorgeous) and will detail more on another post because I have much to say about a book she recommended when we were together. There is even a photograph but I need to check that Celia is happy for me to post it before I do.
You might be forgiven for thinking that I haven’t done much since I got back – even taking Christmas into account – and you’d be right. I have been taking life very eaaasy. It’s lovely. There is stuff happening but at a much more relaxed pace than previously – and I am slowly starting to try to sort out my messy life and head. It’s going to take a while.
However, I have made a shirt. Another Style Arc – Juliet this time. I had admired this shirt when I saw the Demented Fairy’s version when we met to shop. I had exactly that fabric and it looked fabulous – but I wouldn’t be so mean as to do a direct copy. That’s just not nice. Anyway, Style Arc had another sale, I couldn’t resist buying more patterns (this has got to stop!) and this one was bought and printed. The fabric had been in the stash for so long it smelled a bit funny so I had to wash it before I was willing to work with it. Oh, the shame! It actually looks better on me than on Bessie at present – she is a little heavier than me at the moment (adjusting her dimensions is another of those jobs to be done) – but there has been no opportunity to take a picture of me wearing it so Bessie you get. I’m very happy with this (in a size 12 – what?how?why?) and I know it will be worn frequently despite needing to be ironed which isn’t my favourite pastime.
That’s more than enough for now, but I do have more posts in preparation so I might not be too long in coming back.
Keep warm out there!
Late again – but I really did need to say a big thank you to my Stitching Santa partners and particularly to the lovely Sheila at Sewchet who organised it again this year.
My first parcel (the knitting one) was sent from Nana Cathy. She has some lovely pictures of what she made in this post but here are mine. I meant to take a picture of the stocking before it was taken off the tree but I forgot. The Santa actually comes out and fun was had moving him around. I love the scented owl – he(she?) may end up in my ‘smalls’ drawer but might just as easily be a nice lavender whiff by my pillow to help me sleep. The lovely multi coloured basket is now full of my pattern cutting pens/pencils. Very useful. I’m tempted to leave the knitted pear in the fruit bowl – it wont go off but I suspect the ‘real’ fruit wont do it any good 😦
The sock yarn is gorgeous! The colours are fabulous, and though there is a sock pattern obviously designed for this I am tempted to knit a neck warmer of some description as it goes beautifully with the wool I bought to make into a coat. All I have to do is actually get the blessed thing made (and knit the neck warmer) before the need goes away.
The hat and gloves have already been put to good use – they were almost not photographed as they had been moved after wearing on one of my freezing cold walks. One of the benefits of retirement, I have discovered, is to make the most of any dry spells to go walkies. Sadly dry doesn’t mean warm so these are much appreciated. Can you see the bat? Nana clearly did her homework and also found my running blog (not used at the moment as I’m broken). Thanks Nana!
The sewing parcel came from the lovely Deborah at Sweet Fallen Angels. The box it was all packed in was almost too good to open – but I wasn’t going to let that stop me!
Deborah is an amazing embroiderer and apologised for the handmade items in the package. No apology needed Deborah – they are gorgeous. The blue projects bag (anything bag – try to take it off me!) has pockets all the way round which aren’t obvious from my photo. This will be used lots. The little purse is a style I have seen in magazines/blogs but never actually ‘in the flesh’. It’s lovely – even more so because it’s full of buttons and what dressmaker doesn’t like buttons!
There was a phone case that I had to make sure that I still had when my daughter left after her visit! It has a dog on one side and bone on the other in a reference to the cockney rhyming slang for phone. The stitches are astoundingly neat – this is why I’m a dressmaker rather than embroiderer.
I’m not certain what I will do with the quilting cotton yet but it will be a project for myself as the fabric was a gift.
What Deborah didn’t know is that I have a fairly large collection of mice built up since my sister gave me one in childhood – look at the tree decoration she made! I didn’t realise until I came to write this post that the tree mouse had been carefully packed away with the decorations so I hope Deborah won’t mind me stealing a photo from her blog. Isn’t that mouse cute!
What about my parcels? Again I was pretty useless at taking pictures before they were sent so I will give links to their recipients.
The knitting parcel went to The Snail of Happiness. Isn’t that the most amazing name for a blog? The post about her parcel can be found by clicking this link . I even managed to foul up writing her card which meant that I had to put a spoiler alert on the outside! When will I learn.
The sewing parcel went to The Hazelnut Thread (another great blog name – I’m feeling a name change coming on…..). Again I’m sending you to her blog via this link to see the parcel contents. She has a delightful little girl and I was able to include some fabric I bought and loved but was never enough for an adult garment. I hope Hazel likes it!
Well another year done, and a warning for Sheila. My daughter is so impressed with the Stitching Santa idea, and the contents of my parcels that she may want to join in next year. Except that despite my best efforts she can neither knit nor sew. Look out!
…. on the past year – as so many of us are. I realise I have blogged very little this year. And probably sewn even less despite all intentions to the contrary. In retrospect this shouldn’t be too big a surprise. I had a pretty tumultuous year in so many respects – some good , some not so great, some just plain confusing and tiring.
I started the year nursing a grumpy gall bladder. I’ll confess that this screwed up just about everything – including my ability to enjoy much that I usually do. This isn’t news to a great many people. Anyone out there suffering and wondering if it is worthwhile having the op to remove it – get on the phone and get the bu**er out! Life started to improve greatly after that was removed in April.
Then I fell over and sprained and broke my ankle in June. Poo. It’s still not absolutely right (physio appointments made so hopefully improved soon). That shouldn’t have made too much of an impact but I confess that I have sulked big time, and the lack of ability to run has made me unbelievably grumpy. The Management is looking forward to me being able to get out and run again 😉
We did have that wonderful month out to Australia in November where I met Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, and Lesley of Sew,Nip Tuck which was wonderful. It seemed to have been in the planning for ever and it’s a bit of a shock now it’s actually done. We enjoyed it enormously but got home exhausted, just in time to have to buy Christmas gifts for our family in Northumberland. No pressure!
We had a mere two week before we went to Northumberland – a bit of a climate change there! We spent a couple of days with friends enjoying beach walks at Bambrough with their dog, and a fabulous trip to Barter Books – possibly my favourite bookshop in the world. My sister loves a visit to Barter as much as me but we couldn’t combine our visit this time sadly. It was lovely to see both mothers and sisters again as we see so little of them. Regular phone calls just aren’t the same.
Christmas was wonderful with a visit from The Daughter. Again, we don’t see as much as we would like but she is having a very different life from us living and working in London. Great to see her though. She was exceedingly taken with the parcels I received from my Stitching Santa partners. These were wonderful and deserve a full post (again, after the new year) but I will say to both Nana Cathy and Deborah of Sweet Fallen Angels that their parcels were fabulous! I’m really looking forward to
playing with using the contents 🙂
What next? Ah yes, The Management. Now retired. Why didn’t anyone tell me it could be so much fun? But also really puts a crimp in your sewing time ….. and many other interests time. I love him dearly (most days) but I confess that this has taken far more adapting to than I expected. I am enjoying the slower pace of life but really think I need to jack it up a bit again if I expect to get things I want done. Memo to myself sent for 2018. Still some settling in and adapting to be done I fear. If anyone out there has a handle on how to cope well in retirement I would love to hear your solutions.
Ok that’s the ‘Life’ bit of my blog title over – what about the rest? Fabric? Yes, been buying plenty of that so I have a mammoth backlog of intended projects . Do these count as UFO’s – because if they do I’m in real trouble. I have done some sewing – recently and for our Australia trip (a bit of a Style Arc fest if I’m honest). I really need to concentrate a post to those in the new year (I promise!!!). There are intentions to make more this year (aren’t there always?) and whilst I’m not officially signing up for Goodnight Valentinos RTW fast this year (I did it a few years ago and enjoyed it) I do intend to sew anything I can rather than buying.
About a hundred years ago I did lots of pattern cutting in order to get my City and Guilds qualification and I have very sadly let that ability slide. I was looking at the amount of patterns I had bought in recent years and was slightly horrified. Yes I could have drafted them myself – I was probably lookinng for a quick fix in most cases. No more. The pattern drafting tools are to be dusted off and I will start again. I have rediscovered my blocks (last drawn out too many years ago to admit) and the calico trials – wonders will never cease that they were together! I will be trying theese on to
have a good laugh establish what changes need to be made. Once that has been done I will start looking through my wardrobe – that shouldn’t take long 😦 – and identify what I need to fill gaps. And what needs to be passed on. Even when things still fit and are in good condition they sometimes just ‘need to go’.
Well congratulations if you have made it through all that waffle. I’m finished for now – apart from wishing all of you amazing readers a very happy and prosperous 2018. May none of your projects be wadders!
I’m not even going to try to apologise for the length of time it’s taken to follow my last post. I will, however, let you know why it’s taken so long.
At the end of the last post I alluded to having met another blogger. No photographs of this particular undercover treat – the lady we know best as Mrs Mole. We met and talked for so long I thought we would be put out as the restaurant set around us for that evenings dinner service. She brought me a wonderful piece of Devore velvet in the most adorable aubergine purple and I am still thinking of the perfect project to use this for.
I have been having problems taking photographs of my sewing as I go. So many bloggers have fabulous pictures on their blogs. Mine always feel very rushed and a bit yucky. This has almost put me off blogging altogether. The Management isn’t ever going to be ‘a photographer’ on request (I’m pretty sure he fouls up just to prevent me asking again), and the tripod works ok but is a real pain to set up – and often the sun goes in/light changes so I have to move the blessed thing all over again. I know how much better things look on an actual body rather than just pressing Bessie into service so I will try harder to photograph as I go in future.
As you know I am no longer sewing for clients. Ahem, one of my favourites didn’t get the memo. He doesn’t come often but when he does it’s usually a very interesting project – and although he is exacting he isn’t usually any trouble. This order was for six silk shirts from a pattern I had already used. Shouldn’t be difficult -or so I thought. Inevitably this was the order that took more time than I expected. I was very pleased with the results but I really wanted to be getting on with other things because….
….I was going to Australia for almost a month! My plan had been to make a very organised travel wardrobe that would make the stay a well dressed dream. All of the blogs I have seen do this made it look very achievable – and well it may have been had I not been making shirts…. . Needless to say the whole co-ordinated look went right out of the window and I ended up with my usual dressmaker rush to fill in gaps and make what I already had more wearable. I have some photographs but I wanted to write at least one post before I choke my computer with all of the photographs I took whilst we were away! I was really lucky to be able to meet another two of my blogging ‘friends from afar’ – the wonderful Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial and Lesley from Sewniptuck (more on those meetings in another post). We got back yesterday and I have been playing catch up on my blog reading but not making many comments. That will get back to normal soon.
When I have sorted the photographs and found the pictures of the few things I made to go I will blog each garment. Some were winners, some well…..
So until I get that done I will finish off with a promise to try to be a better blogger now that my amazing holiday (which had been planned for ages so I had no excuses not to be better organised!) is over, and I don’t have client work BECAUSE I’M RETIRED. Please feel free to remind me of that if I slip. So, nothing in the way of sewing and blogging (except maybe Chri….. I can’t even say the word yet).
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.