Relaxing, and getting things done, is soooo good!

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

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

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

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

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..and back

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Butterick 6388 front…

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

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

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

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

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

I’m enjoying life. Hope you are too.


Yucky/Lovely December

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

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

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

I really was wowed by my two parcels.

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Sewing #stitchingsanta

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

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

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Knitting #stitchingsanta

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kim x


The Eternal Socks and more.

No. not how long I expect them to last – the time it has taken me to knit these blessed socks.

I used my basic pattern, which is the Lacery sock pattern which was free fom Ravelry, but used the cabled pattern all over the sock from the Little Minx socks, also free from Ravelry. The last time I used the Little Minx pattern I realised it didn’t have increases on the instep but didn’t think it would matter. After using the socks for a while I decided that whilst I liked the cabling they were a bit tight over the foot to put on. Fine once they are on there but a bit of a struggle initially!

Damn that dropped stitch!

Damn that dropped stitch!

I was finished one sock for a good while before I got on with the second as this has been my ‘portable project’ for a while. Socks are great for a project that can move with you and doesn’t take up too much space. A night of insomnia got me back on track and once cast on they were on their way. It wasn’t until I had finished the second sock it still took a while) and was darning in the two loose threads (I love toe-up socks for this detail – only two threads to darn in on one colour socks) I spotted this! Damn! A dropped stitch from while I was working the heel. Fortunately it hadn’t run away when I turned the sock through so I was able to effect a repair whilst muttering and cursing.

Instep detail

Instep detail

I am now happy to report that I have another pair of hand knitted socks for myself, and very comfy they are too. They were knitted in Yarn Gardens sock yarn which had a bit of something called ‘stelina sparkle’ included which makes them a bit twinkly. I know from the last Yarn Garden yarn I knitted that these will have to be washed on their own for a good few times as the dye seems to weep for a number of washes but doesn’t seem to fade – no, I don’t know how either.

Finished!

Finished!

Something I hadn’t quite appreciated until I went to put the end of the yarn into the ‘leftovers bag’ was quite how much leftover sock yarn I have generated. I think I may have to knit a ‘two at once’ project and just make mad stripes to use some of this up.

Leftover sock yarn

Leftover sock yarn

 

So, any sewing Kim? Not as such. Lots of planning (I seem to spend more time planning my sewing than ever I do making things for me 😦 ), client work being kept steady – or even diminishing which is nice, and piles of PDF patterns printed out ready to get on with.

I stuck the Style Arc Toni pattern together a little while ago and decided that rather than spending the time tracing it from that I would just cut the pieces. Why didn’t I do that before? It is now sitting with the fabric I plan to make it in waiting for its turn. It was head of the list until I saw – Style Arc Nell.

Fashionable cape with bound edges and inseam pockets

This was love at first sight. I had flirted with the idea of a cape for quite some time but never taken the plunge. This just seemed to be exactly what I needed – and I knew exactly which fabric to make it in. A lovely raspberry fabric that had been lurking for some time. Oh, but would I end up looking a bit ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ (even though there is no hood other than me). Re think. A lovely textured grey wool sprung to mind – even longer in the stash than the raspberry. Perfect. Except there is only 1.5m and the pattern says 2. Pants. I really liked the idea of this in the grey so I spent this afternoon sticking the pattern together before cutting it out and placing (breath held the whole time) on the ‘too small’ piece of grey fabric. It fits. Just. Two pieces are a fraction off grain which I  would usually not tolerate but this time needs must.

The piece turned out to be only 145cm long and I think that had it been the full 1.5m I could possibly have managed to cut this on grain – sadly I will have to find something else to make the pockets from (or go without , but I can’t see that happening!) as the pocket pieces wont fit. Hopefully I will get this cut out and overlocked over the weekend. The fabric is so loosely woven that if I don’t protect the edges I am going to have fraying beyond the not very generous seam allowances.

Back with progress soon.I hope.


Join me in the happy dance!

 

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Front view

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Back view

At long last I have finished the blessed brown trousers. Actually I finished these last Thursday but have been waiting for a good photograph to blog with. As usual at this time of year the light has been awful, and when we have been outside (more later) it hasn’t been very much better so I have stuck with the selfie. It has taken so long to finish these you would be very welcome to join me in the happy dance!

Anyhoo, the trousers! This was my Jeanius pattern (cut from instructions given in the Kenneth D King Craftsy course which seems to be at sale price right now!) and cut in fabric brought back from Spain. The fabric was probably suited to a ‘tailored’ style but I tend to wear jeans and t’s most of the time – so jeans it is.

I knew that the pattern fitted reasonably well so I just made them up as cut. I had forgotten that I added 5mm to the side seams last time (Doh!) and whilst these are a snug fit over the butt and thigh I am not concerned because of the amount of stretch in the fabric. I could probably wear these to the gym and be able to cope – although I have no intention of doing so!

I have worn these a lot since I finished them and can say they can bear up to a full days wear looking good, and barely crease even after a couple of hours in the car. I think we have a winner. It would have been nice to have this fabric in another colour but since I don’t remember exactly where in Spain I bought this, and it was forever ago, I am unlikely to manage that. It would be nice to imagine I would be able to find some in the UK but I can’t recall seeing anything similar over the years. I will just have to enjoy what I have.

I had hoped to get a decent photograph last weekend as The Management and I spent the weekend in Bournemouth. Despite the weather being fine I failed completely to get a photograph of me outside at all. No particular reason for a weekend away, but I really enjoyed the break. I find January and the early part of the year quite difficult – probably related to the lack of daylight (S.A.D would be an extreme version of what I feel) so it is nice to break up the expected with little breaks.

Hippies sign

Hippies sign

On the journey down I spotted this sign in a house window. We were stopped at a red light when I noticed it – considering I had to dredge in my handbag, find the camera, turn it on, point and shoot I think this turned out better than the photographs I really try with! Maybe I can learn from that. You might have to click and enlarge this to read the detail but I found it really funny.

 

Two at once socks

Two at once socks

I have also finished my ‘two at once’ socks. These were knitted from my favourite sock pattern from Ravelry but without the lace pattern, and two at once ofcourse.It was easier to manage the further you got into knitting these, and it was brilliant to be able to cast of and only have to darn in the ends before putting on a new pair of socks. No chance of ‘single sockitis! Again these have been worn and I can confirm that they are warm and comfortable. I used to be a little concerned about the difference in ‘nubblyness’ on the soles of hand knitted socks by comparison with the commercially produced socks but I don’t notice the difference now (apart from my feet being warmer in the wool socks).

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Fabulous bundt cake

I bought a new bundt cake tin after being bought the new  Simply Nigella  cook book for Christmas and seeing her cakes. Isn’t the shape just fabulous? In checking Amazon for the link this book is also available at a deep discount – the hardback is cheaper than the Kindle copy – and I can confess to spending way too long just drooling over the wonderful looking food.

I can’t believe just how easy it was to make a cake that looks so impressive! I made this particular recipe (rather than one of Nigellas which I will make in the near future) as Jess was trying a Vegan January and I am always up for a cooking challenge.This was a vegan chocolate mud cake I made. I wish I could share it with you – it tasted infinitely better than the title makes it sound. We had a slice each exactly as it was, but the next time we had it with chopped strawberries and some coconut soya yoghurt as a pudding. Delicious!

I have sewn something else which I will show as soon as I photograph that (I couldn’t do it at the same as the trousers as I was going out – I did put shoes on. Honest).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Now a sick sloth.

In the evening after I wrote my last post, a mere four days ago, I realised I had a bit of a sore throat. Nothing awful – a bit of a scratchy feeling that almost everyone in the UK has at present. Not so the next morning. Full on streaming cold, coughing, sneezing, and verging on deaf from time to time. Not funny, and it got worse later in the day when I started getting giddy, off balance, spells – presumably all connected with the stupid ear clearing problems. Cue a day sulking on the sofa, which has turned into several.

Now, I am probably in with a whole bunch of you who spent a few days after the holidays sorting out stash. I included my yarn stash and was quietly amazed at how much sock yarn I had. Yes, I like knitting socks. No, they rarely use up all the yarn. Why not make use of this ‘leftover’ yarn to make socks. There was certainly enough of it. There was other yarn too but we can gloss over that for the moment.

I spent some time blog hopping and generally  wasting time researching online and saw references to knitting two socks at once. I have used other videos from Knit Purl Hunter when I have been uncertain and can recommend them with great confidence. This is a way to ensure a matching pair no matter how random your yarn selection is (provided you divide it into two balls to knit from). My brain definitely wasn’t up to using multiple balls of yarn so I selected a couple of balls that ‘sneaked’ into my last yarn order from the Wool Warehouse.

Toe up socks - two at once!

Toe up socks – two at once!

The yarn is Drops Fabel print which is 75% Wool, 25% Polyamide in common with most sock yarn. It forms a sort of ‘fair isle’ pattern as you knit. I have knitted lots of socks, not all blogged – after all, how many pairs of socks are interesting? – so I was confident that my brain could handle that but would it cope with two at once? Initially it was a bit difficult until the toe increases had been completed. Not brain difficult – just difficult to maneuver the stitches in the way I needed in such small numbers.  After the increases I went into ‘automatic pilot’ and just knitted a few rows (circuits?) at a time between reading a book, watching tv, making tea, and listening to a podcast. They are coming on fairly well now, as you can see, and the instep increases have been completed. I’m a little worried about the heel turn because at the moment I’m not sure I have the brain capacity for that despite feeling a good deal better.

Going back to the podcast – am I the last person on the planet not to have heard of ‘Serial’  ? My daughter recommended it while she was here at Christmas and it seemed like a good ‘I don’t actually have to do anything and can still enjoy this’ activity. Hooked. I’m still uncertain if this is fact or fiction. Feel free to tell me if you know – it wont spoil it for me.

I have done some work on the brown trousers. Only the waistband and hem to be completed now. The fabric has turned out to be much stretchier than I had anticipated so I am still dithering about what to use as interfacing to stabilise the waistband.

Thanks for all the suggestions as to what I could use the fabrics I showed in the last post for. There are some really good ideas there but, again, I am dithering about choices. I will let you know when I decide.

Before I leave you can anyone tell me when Vicks Vapour Rub became VapoRub? I’m sure it worked better when it was spelled properly.


A weeks review

I have been pretty busy this week but had fun all the way.

London Bag

London Bag

London Apron

London Apron

I have made four aprons, and six shopping bags ready for fundraising events. There are more items listed ready to make this week but I really wanted to make a start with things in this wonderful fabric showing the major sights in London. It is a lovely heavy 100% cotton that I am sure will be really hard wearing – and obviously washable since no-ones aprons (or shopping bags) stay clean for long.

I would have liked one of these for some cooking I did myself this week – but not allowed! I have been making sour dough bread about twice a week since I was given my starter and last week was no different. I like real ‘loaf tin’ shaped loaves as they are really easy to cut and make into toast – and sour dough toasts brilliantly!

Sour dough loaves

Sour dough loaves

I also made some Hot Cross Buns. I love Hot Cross Buns so when I saw a sour dough recipe on Fig Jam and Lime Cordials blog I had to try them. This is a fabulous blog but comes with a warning. She is an amazing cook and you will want to eat everything you see. I can almost feel my waist expanding as I read each post. And the Hot Cross buns are wonderful. I like mine well spiced so I will probably increase the amount of spice in the next batch. There will certainly be many more batches. Just look how good even my first batch looks (and there aren’t this many any more!)

Fabulous hot cross buns

Fabulous hot cross buns

Between client and fund raising sewing, cooking, and just general life there hasn’t been much spare time but I have eventually finished one of my ‘Little Minx’ socks. These are another toe-up pattern from Ravelry – and I have to say that the jury is out on this style. It has taken an age but only because this is the third time I have knitted this up. The first time I forgot to knit into the back of the knit stitch and the pattern wasn’t anything like as nice (it took a while to work out what I was doing wrong. Note to self – READ THE PATTERN PROPERLY). I love the yarn but at the moment I don’t love the sock. I have managed to make ‘pairs’ of every sock pattern I have made so far. I don’t want this to be the first singleton, but I think I am going to have to leave this a while before making the second.

Little Minx sock

Little Minx sock

I have lots of sewing planned for this week – but I am also hosting a fundraiser for my daughters marathon at my home on Friday morning so I will be knee deep in cake mix later in the week. I hope they all work right. I will report on fundraising progress next week.


Happy November!

But where did October go? Honestly, I have been working – it’s that time of year when my customers all seem to find that everything in their wardrobe for cold weather needs attention, or replace them with new garments. That need attention. I have been reading recently in magazines and online about how it would be nice to lose the ‘busy’ label and be more relaxed and realistic about our abilities. I think it is truly time for me to take this on board.

As a result of client work I haven’t done much for me but I did make time to have another play with the coverstitcher. Because I bought a binder attachment. Yes, I know I really need to get to grips with the plain machine, but I knew that this would be used major amounts once I had it sussed. So, lets get sussing!

Lots of time taken on this mess

Lots of time taken on this mess

I spent a good couple of hours just fiddling with the buttons and stitching flat fabric, and then decided to put the binder onto the machine. That took a little longer than I expected (it would have taken less if I had not wasted an age looking for a ‘part’ which turned out to be permanently on the machine. Doh!) but once on I was able to start making a mess pretty quickly. It was largely trial and error (mainly error) as the instructions printed on the inside of the packaging are sketchy at best. Help was at hand on You Tube, but in all honesty I just fiddled and saw what happened. I started with the gingham (woven and not too likely to move too much) which worked pretty well. Then the viscose jersey which is very stretchy.

This is more likely to be the sort of fabric I would use so I really wanted this to work. It would have been useful to have been able to buy an extra hand to enable me to hold/manipulate the strip of binding as well as moving the ‘garment’ piece. I think it is always going to be worth doing a sample before I use this on a garment. Despite being short of a hand I thought it worked pretty well so I went on to the garment I was making.

Old Faithful, Burda 2/13 127

Old Faithful, Burda 2/13 127

I used the Burda pattern from February that I knew fitted, only using long sleeves this time. When I say long sleeves I mean  long – check the pattern before you cut these out because I chopped off 7cm. I cut the binding strips a little wider than the binder instructions (pffft! what instructions) because I knew that when under tension the jersey gets narrower. This worked well and I was pleased with the way the neckline finished. It even looks good on the inside. I did take a picture but it was blurry so I haven’t included it.

Coverstitch binding a neckline. Looks fine!

Coverstitch binding a neckline. Looks fine!

I am happy with the way this turned out, and I am looking forward to making more use of the machine. The problems were all with me. All ‘more haste, less speed’.I have unreasonable expectations of being able to just ‘sit down and do it’ with no practice which never works. Given time (and lots more experience) I can see this becoming a real time saver and very useful machine. Just not yet.

When I haven’t been sewing, and all the sundry other things we ladies have to do, I have finished another pair of socks. These are the ones for my mum and have been knitted almost exactly from the pattern. I say almost as if you had knitted both the same you would not have got a mirror image of the lace pattern on opposite socks. I puzzled for longer than was necessary to get the effect I wanted before realising all I needed to do was start the second sock pattern on row 11 rather than row 1. Sometimes the answers are simple.

Mums Lacery socks.

Mums Lacery socks.

In my last post (so long ago) I did mention a new Patrones magazine that I would review. I haven’t forgotten, and it has now been joined by the new Burda and Threads magazines, so I will make a point of doing that this weekend. Sorry for the delay!