Past the finishing post……

….. 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!

He is happy with it – honest!

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.

Too much front width

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.

Kim

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Mystery Blogger Award

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.

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“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:

The Demented Fairy

Sewniptuck

Hand made by Carolyn

The Compulsive Seamstress

Tialys

Textiles and trouble

Core Couture

Pretty Grievances

Sewbussted

Fit for a Queen

 

So, for their questions…..

  1. Do you read, and if yes what is your favourite book?
  2. What is your favourite ice cream flavour?
  3. What is your favourite season, and why.
  4. Do you prefer to sew in silence or with entertainment of some sort.
  5. 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

Kim


Notes from ‘The Dark Side’

Fits the bed now!

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.

Comfortable work station

Hand quilting – for better or worse

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.

EZ Alpaca sweater

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  😉

Hoods on tour

Aluminium jewellery

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.

Elderflower cordial – bottled sunshine!

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?

Full shelter outfit

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.

Kim

 


So much stuff!

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.

Relaxing knitting

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.

Merino felt and stretch lace

Vintage Vogue Designer Patterns

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 😉

Kim

 


Reflecting….

…. 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!

Beautiful – and empty!

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!

Kim x

 


I’m back (again)

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.

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Beautiful fabric – thanks Mrs Mole!

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 soon

Kim


I plan and God laughs

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Sock therapy

Yes, I did have plans to start sewing again despite a very weak sewing mojo at present. But…. I managed a spectacular fall in the forest whilst out walking (yes, WALKING – not even running) and I now have what turned out to be a sprained ankle with a little fracture on the knobby ankle bone. Painful and very life interrupting.

As a result I have been knitting socks again. The sharp eyed among you will recognise the green yarn from my Shrewsbury shopping trip which I bought so I could squeeze another pair of socks out of the hank of sock yarn in my Stitching Santa parcel. I also decided it would be a good opportunity to write the ‘size between’ instructions on my favourite sock pattern to get the perfect fit.

I was thrilled to get the pair out of what was left of the yarn with only yards to spare – look at what’s left on the photograph! I can’t verify that the fit is exactly what I wanted yet since my left foot is in a surgical boot at the moment. Very fetching 😉

Now that I am a bit more mobile, and it is my left foot after all so I could still use a sewing machine pedal, I will get back to work. I hope your plans are going better than mine out there.

Kim x