Perfect weather for knitting!Posted: July 2, 2018 Filed under: Elizabeth Zimmerman, Knit-Along, Knitting, Swansea, Travel, Worcester | Tags: Knitting, Travel 24 Comments
Summer has arrived here in the UK – not sneaking in slowly to give us any opportunity to get used to it but arriving with a BANG! In UK terms it has been unbelievably
warm hot for what feels like weeks and there is no sign of rain at all so it can only be a matter of time before someone starts bleating about hosepipe bans. Actually there is a bit of 1976 about this weather……
Anyhoo, the knitting is sticking to the needles at the moment even though I am using talcum powder to try to keep my hands dry. Despite that I have been making progress on the Elizabeth Zimmerman KAL that Kate is hosting. I was determined to knit with what I had in stash – and since there were stripes suggested it gave me the opportunity to go a little wild. The Management said that the sleeves looked like a minor football teams away strip to begin with but changed to just sniggering as they got longer. He now confesses to quite liking them. What do you think? (Be honest – it isn’t going to change things at all and I have broad shoulders so I can take it 😉 )
The quilt is making good progress too. I now have all of the ‘done’ section rolled such that all that is left to do shows the finishing line. TM comes in occasionally to check on progress and seems happy. I’m very happy to be in the workroom as it is downstairs and is beautifully cool by comparison with the rest of the house at the moment. I think this will work very well as a solo cover on our bed when it’s as hot as this. Must get a move on and finish the hand quilting so I can get the bindings done.
In the way of delightedly retired people we have also had a few trips out. The first was very local – the newly re-opened Royal Worcester porcelain museum. It was both wonderful and very quiet. If you are in the area it’s worth an hour or so of your time.
We also celebrated a significant Wedding Anniversary recently and had a meal at a lovely place near Abergavenny. Having got that far TM said we might just as well have a couple of nights away in Swansea – ulterior motive already spotted since I knew he wanted to visit the birthplace of Dylan Thomas.
Even if you have absolutely no interest in poetry or Dylan Thomas the house was magnificent. It had been renovated by the current owner (a big Dylan fan) to a brilliant standard and was a joy to wander around. It reminded me a little of an elderly aunts house from my childhood.
The weather was stunning and we enjoyed a wonderful day just wandering around Mumbles, and the on to Rhosilli which was just beautiful. I definitely want to go back and spend longer. I wouldn’t even mind if the weather wasn’t quite so stunning (I did get an uncharacteristic sunburn – I’m usually very very careful as I am so fair skinned). Check out these magnificent views.
I know there was a fair walk to get down onto that fabulous beach but really, it was almost deserted! I’ve been a bit biased about Northumbrian beaches in the past but this one was well up on my favourite beaches list.
It’s been wonderful here (and there!) since my last post – and to top it all I was nominated for a Mystery Blogger Award by Linda who blogs HERE
I will respond to this in another post when I can do it justice. Thank you Linda!
Off now to
keep cool do some more hand quilting. Whatever you are doing, and in whatever conditions, I hope you are enjoying it.
Notes from ‘The Dark Side’Posted: June 14, 2018 Filed under: Elizabeth Zimmerman, Italy, Knitting, Life, Quilting, Travel | Tags: Elizabeth Zimmerman, Italy, Knitting, Life, Quilting, Travel 21 Comments
Remember me? Yes, it’s been a while.
Much to my surprise I have been thoroughly enjoying the quilt. Yes. That quilt. And look – the topper is now big enough to fit the bed now – hurrah! I really didn’t think I was ever going to get to that point.
In fairness that did throw up a whole other set of dilemmas – the main one being how to actually ‘quilt’ the wretched thing. So many people had advised against hand quilting that I really shouldn’t have considered it – but I did and eventually decided that it was the way I wanted to go.
Those pieces have taken an age to put together, and I would love to say that all of the joins are perfect but they aren’t. Also, the nature of the design meant that there are areas where the stitching would go across blocks of darker colour and I decided that I really didn’t want the stitching to be very noticeable. So ……. hand quilting it is.
I have moved my cutting table from the (darker) back room to a position in front of my work room window which is beautifully bright. I can work there until fairly late in the evening at the moment without any problem. I have also
nicked borrowed The Managements Pilates ball so I’m sitting better whilst working. These steps, and the discovery of Audio books from my local library, mean that I can quite happily spend a couple of hours (or more!) zenned out while I hand quilt. Who ever would have expected that to happen!
Anyway, as a result of that (and the fact that the Football World Cup is about to start) means that I am making good progress on the quilt, and expect to continue to do so. I’m not sewing anything else at the moment but I really feel that I about ready to consider sewing again from a much happier place.
You might remember the alpaca yarn I showed in my last post which is now a completed sweater. I followed the most basic of the Elizabeth Zimmerman designs and have been very happy with the results. I’m slightly surprised at just how warm and heavy this turned out to be – and I shouldn’t show any surprise that completion coincided with the change in the weather here in the UK so it is now way too warm to wear this! Never mind, I’m quite certain that it will be well worn in due course.
I enjoyed the whole Elizabeth Zimmerman method of knitting (Pattern – what pattern?) and when Kate publicised on her blog HERE that she was willing to arrange a KAL (knit – along) using the EZ methods for a raglan sweater I was very happy to join. I am just using as much of the scrap yarn (of the same type) that I have left from previous projects so it isn’t going to be a classy knit! Since I’m hardly a classy dame I really don’t care 😉
We managed to slip a quick week away to Puglia in Italy a couple of weeks ago and had a very fine time. Those who follow me on instagram (@kimthemateriallady) will have already seen some pictures. We were very much in need of sunshine – which arrived in the UK just as we were packing the case. Thankfully it hung around and we are still enjoying it.
Italy, and particularly Puglia (since that was where we were) was fantastic. We generally ate and drank too much, and smiled a massive amount which has made our smile wrinkles even deeper which troubles me not one jot. I don’t often buy mementos of holidays as they are so frequently regretted on return but I was delighted to find these pieces of jewelry in Vieste. It looks quite heavy but is actually aluminium so it is fabulously light – and was hand made by the gentleman I bought them from. Better and better – and worn frequently since return.
The wonderful weather has meant that the wild flowers are looking wonderful – and I was particularly waiting for the elder flower so that I could make cordial. I was a little late making this for the first time last year from THIS RECIPE. It was delicious – and even freezes so you can save some for when winter all seems to be getting too miserable as it tastes like bottled sunshine. I managed to pick sufficient for a double batch on a fabulously sunny afternoon and now have it safely tucked away. I’m keeping note of the elder bushes I see as I also have a recipe (untried) for elderberry cordial which is supposed to be really beneficial to health in the winter.
Oh heavens, I appear to be turning into ‘The Wise Woman’. Take no notice of me.
The Management was all ready to go down to the museum a little while back and I took advantage of the moment to take a picture of him in full shelter regalia. Not meant to be actually 1940’s kit – just inspired by. The only new thing is the sweater I knitted. We have been fortunate enough to find everything else in Charity (Op) shops, or from the clothing he already had. Doesn’t he look cute?
I will try not to leave it quite so long before I report in again – but as you can see I haven’t been (totally) slacking. And the garden aint looking too bad either.
Elizabeth Zimmerman is ace!Posted: March 7, 2018 Filed under: Elizabeth Zimmerman, Knitting, Northumberland, Travel, V&A, Yorkshire | Tags: Elizabeth Zimmerman, Knitting, Northumberland, Travel, V&A, Yorkshire 23 Comments
Yup, it’s official – I really like Elizabeth Zimmerman’s knitting style. If you like being taken by the hand and led all the way through a pattern then she may not be for you but if you are prepared to ‘freestyle it’ a bit then she’s great.
You may remember I was knitting the ‘Stu’s Fair Isle’ pullover from the Knitting Workshop book which I still have from our local library. I’ll confess to having a good giggle at the instructions (such as they were), particularly when I read the instructions on guage – “6 stitches to the inch. GET IT RIGHT” (Her capitals). And I should have been paying attention.
In a straightforward stocking stitch this was achieved perfectly. What I hadn’t considered was that even doing my best to CARRY WOOL LOOSELY (again, her capitals) whilst knitting the fair isle pattern I clearly made it a bit tighter. Not horribly so, but I think The Management could do with a little more wiggle room. He thinks not as he is ‘going to the gym now so I should shape up sometime soon….’. I think we all know how often that works.
Anyway, in all his glory, here he is wearing the pullover within seconds of it being finished. I think he likes it!(Sorry for the fairly numpty I-phone picture)
Back to the pattern. Before I realised I was going to have to actually do a bit of work on this pullover I followed the fair isle chart exactly as printed. It didn’t fit the number of stitches I had. Nor any of the other sizes with the exception of size 40. Lesson number 1 was that when it comes to the patterns you really are in charge. Pay attention.
I spent some time rejigging the pattern so that all the designs were divisible by 12 which meant that they fitted the stitch number I had. No problems at all after that. As you are working ‘in the round’ and all rows are knit rows this pattern knitted up much more quickly than I expected.
Can we talk about ‘steeking’? Following EZ’s instructions I knitted this all the way up to the shoulders – adding ‘kangaroo pouches’ and various other completely unknown methods – before being instructed to cut into my knitting. Yes, that’s basically what steeking is. Terrifying. I selected a ridiculously short stitch on my sewing machine (after basting guide lines) and sewed three anchor lines rather than the two advised. Belt and braces? No way was this going to unravel if I had anything to do with it. And then I had to cut into the work I had spent so long knitting. If I could have safely done it with my eyes closed I would have done – I’m pretty certain I wasn’t breathing at this point. OK, long story cut short. No problems!
I picked up the armhole and neckline stitches with heart in mouth. I was convinced that this would end up in pieces on my lap but I can promise that it was absolutely solid. I was pretty confident that if the results hadn’t been predictable then there would have been warnings all over the interweb so I really shouldn’t have worried. If you ever have to do this then be brave (and don’t put it off for days in fear as I did). Herringbone stitching the cut edges down has made the insides actually look fairly presentable which I wasn’t confident about.
Anyway, I have done what I needed to ensure he now has a jacket, tie, and hand knitted sweater …… and the builders haven’t finished their stuff so the shelter isn’t going to be opened straight away (probably a good thing as the poor man would freeze in there at the moment!). He still needs to source suitable trousers and decide on a suitable shirt and shoes but I’m leaving that to himself – I feel that honour has been satisfied from this end!
I imagine you are all getting bored with the UK weather pictures now. The funniest thing I have read about last weeks storm was ‘In the UK it’s The Beast from the East’ but the Finns are calling it Wednesday’. So right and totally hilarious. I’ll confess a sense of humour failure after sitting for almost two hours in the same spot on a Yorkshire motorway as we traveled home after a trip to the Frozen North. We hit Northumberland overnight to attend a much loved (but exceedingly elderly) uncle’s funeral before spending a night in Skipton – after a wonderful bright snowy drive through the Yorkshire dales which were beautiful. We also took the opportunity to visit Salts Mill in Saltaire for a Hockney exhibition. It was wonderful and we will certainly visit on another occasion when we might even get to walk the wonderful area around there.
I had a very relaxed day at home….. before setting off into another snow storm on the way to London for a V&A talk on Costume and the Crown. I wasn’t going to miss that! The darling daughter was even willing to join me so we enjoyed a meal in the gorgeous members room before enjoying a very fine talk from Jane Petrie, the costume designer from series 2, and Vanessa Kirby who plays
Princess Margaret. I enjoyed the talk, as did Jess, but I did hear some mutterings that suggested that it hadn’t been sufficiently focused on costume for some. We were able to have a good look at the few costumes that had been brought along for inspection – something that initially horrified Jess until she realised they were made for TV rather than original.
The following day was a lovely trip to Greenwich to enjoy the Royal Observatory. If you have the least interest in astronomy, particularly its relevance to maritime history, then this place is an absolute must visit. I enjoyed a show in the Planetarium too – wonderful! Again it’s
somewhere I am going to have to revisit just to see what must be just about the best views over London there are when it’s not misty as all get out! The Cutty Sark is in one of those photographs – no prizes if you spot it though.
I’m looking forward to a very quiet couple of weeks, I might even sew (although I have absolutely no sewing mojo at all at the moment – Lesley from Sewniptuck suggests a bit of stash fondling). That may work. Possibly. Maybe. I’m still knitting the Botanical Yoke sweater, now back on the needles stolen to make the fair isle, so I’ll quietly bumble on with that for now. And think kindly sewing thoughts which might ignite a desire….
Stay warm out there, and keep on with whatever craft makes you happy.
Taking coals to Newcastle….Posted: January 18, 2018 Filed under: Australia, Independent Patterns, Lesley In Manly, Meet ups, Style Arc, Travel | Tags: Australia, Independent Patterns, Meet ups, Style Arc, Travel 30 Comments
… 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!
Reflecting….Posted: December 31, 2017 Filed under: #stitchingsanta, Australia, Life, Meet ups, Northumberland, Planning, Travel | Tags: #stitchingsanta, Australia, Life, Northumberland, Planning, Travel 42 Comments
…. 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 back (again)Posted: November 23, 2017 Filed under: Life, Meet ups, Organisation, Travel | Tags: Life, Meet ups, Organisation, Travel 40 Comments
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).
Nell’s Done!Posted: November 18, 2016 Filed under: Capes, Dressmaking, Independent Patterns, Northumberland, Style Arc, Travel | Tags: Capes, Dressmaking, Independent Patterns, Northumberland, Style Arc, Travel 38 Comments
Actually Nell was finished almost two weeks ago but I have been in Northumberland again visiting the mothers. Sadly during the time I was there I was unwell, and the weather was cold. No, COLD – so I’m afraid I wanted to be more wrapped up than Nell offered and didn’t get a photograph. More on that later, but just for fun here are some nice cows (and yes, that is snow on the tops).
We did do some nice things during my visit – one of which was a visit to the College Valley. It is truly beautiful there, and as there had been snow the previous night we had truly lovely views of Kielder with snow on top. Sadly there had been lots of rain prior to our visit so walking wasn’t quite as good as it could have been. We did also visit Northumberlandia later that week (also very cold) and got close for the fist time despite passing her on many, many occasions.
Anyway, Style Arc Nell. I had intended this to be a project I could be proud of, but one that wouldn’t take too long. Why do I always seem to complicate things that really don’t need it? You may remember that the quantity of the fabric I chose was really insufficient to make up this pattern, it was also a textured wool that I thought would benefit from being lined. I thought I was unbelievably lucky when I found a matching lining in stash, and when I came up empty on a binding trim I knew that I had some felted wool jersey that would do the job without fraying. Sorted.
I went with a mix between mounting and lining (mining?) as I knew I didn’t have sufficient fabric to even cut a small allowance on the edges that were to be bound which would have enabled me to turn them neatly. This did cause a few problems later, and the seam where the ‘sleeve’ is sewn in and the main coat bound isn’t quite as tidy as I would have liked (no, I’m not showing it – if I pretend it’s not there I’m fine with it). Making up a full lining and turning the whole shebang through on itself would have solved my problems entirely and if I make this again that is exactly what I will be doing.
The instructions don’t include the lining so if anyone really wants me to I can do a description of how I achieved this – but more likely, how to do it with a ‘full turned lining’. I really like this cape – I wasn’t sure I would – but it has already got a bit too cold to wear it comfortably here in the UK. The gorgeous wide
wings sleeves do flap in any sort of a breeze, and since they open up into an armhole it can be a bit nippy. It would be absolutely perfect for a night out (where you weren’t going to be outside much) but not so much for a day out tramping round town.
There is a lovely deep back pleat which makes movement very easy in this, and I loved having pockets (although if I make it again I would probably use a ‘warm’ fabric rather than the lining fabric for them). I did wear this out a couple of times but mostly I was just grateful to wear it round my shoulders in the car where I could easily take it on and off as the need arose.
I’m not absolutely sure when I will make this again as it is pretty distinctive, but the pattern is great and fitted straight off the press (though in truth it only really needed to fit on the shoulders!) but I would be pretty happy to recommend it. The instructions could have been in Greek as I really didn’t use them, though there is a very nice picture instruction sheet which was probably more instructive than the words for me.
I have been catching up on client work again since we got home (diminishing nicely, thank you!) so I am really keen to start that fabulous green/yellow coat next week. Updates eventually.
I could just be the luckiest girl in the worldPosted: September 21, 2016 Filed under: Chicago, Fabric, Meet ups, New York, Rhonda in Chicago, Travel | Tags: Chicago, Fabric, Meet ups, New York, Rhonda Buss, Travel 33 Comments
Just in case anyone wondered why I took so long to answer comments on the last two posts I can now confess that they were scheduled to publish whilst I was away in New York and Chicago. I know – how lucky am I! But it gets even better!
I had visited New York in 2001 with my daughter but The Management wasn’t able to come with us which was sad. He really wanted to visit New York, but we also wanted to visit Chicago because several people had said it was their favourite city – after comments like that you have to find out what its all about don’t you?
Anyway, just in case I have offended anyone by not declaring I would be in New York I knew I was going to have very little free time (The Management had pre-planned lots to do!) and I had to campaign fairly hard to get to visit the garment district and fabric shops at all. Because time was going to be short I took lots of notes from the very useful information Shams posted about her recent trip. Thanks Shams, it was incredibly helpful! We did spend a couple of hours wandering (and buying lunch, coffees and such) and I had decided to be very disciplined and only go to Mood, and if I couldn’t find anything I wanted there (as if!) we would go to Spandex House. Can I mention here that I had run in Central Park first thing (at 25°C, and humid) so I probably wasn’t on top shopping form.
It was lovely to see the iconic ‘button’ on top of the information bureau (closed when we visited) and the sculpture of the garment district worker. I hadn’t realised that there was a fashion ‘Walk of Fame’ and was delighted to see one of my own favourites almost first off. Claire McCardell is just a genius in my opinion.
We arrived in Mood Fabrics (Squeak!) and navigated our way round the stacks – and can you believe The Management found some fabric he rather liked for a shirt! He is fabric shopping ahead of me! (It was rather lovely). I caught up soon enough and added a nice pin striped denim to the order. I could have bought any number of more opulent fabrics (check out those zebras!) but I wanted to buy something I would make up quickly and wear lots – and I probably wear jeans more than anything else so this was perfect. Sadly Swatch was nowhere to be seen (perhaps they allow him to take Saturdays off). I was able to have a quick look in the Mood ‘schoolroom’ and rather wished I would have been able to take a sewing course there. It really wouldn’t have mattered what!
We both came away very tired, but very happy with our purchases. I wonder whose will be made up first?
On Sunday we transferred to Chicago by train, his choice rather than mine but I loved it! Being able to cross the USA at a fairly stately pace whilst letting someone else deal with the driving was lovely. We were in the sleeping coach, so had beds rather than a reclining seat in the main carriage, so it was actually quite relaxing. I was looking forward to Chicago not only because of the fabulous architecture we were told to expect (and it is gorgeous), or the museums and galleries which could fill weeks rather than the few days we had, but because I have been nursing a wonderful secret. I was going to meet Rhonda Buss!
I can’t remember how long I have been tossing comments and e-mails with Rhonda but it’s a long time. I have made up some of her patterns, enjoyed her recipes, and follow closely if she recommends a book or designer as she has so many great suggestions. Her inspiration posts are magnificent – I’m very much looking forward to being able to incorporate some of the ideas into my work once I retire from client sewing. Anyway, if you aren’t already familiar with Rhondas blog I can’t recommend it strongly enough.
I contacted Rhonda way back at the beginning of the year to say I was going to be visiting, and if she had time would it be possible for her to give us a couple of hours for a locals tour of the city. She was so nice, and came back with an immediate ‘yes!’. When the time came she did that, but so much more than I had anticipated.
Yes, we got to see the city – but from her Cessna aeroplane! The Management has been interested in planes since he was a little boy and was thrilled to have been taken to the airport that the plane is kept at – I don’t think he would have been upset if we hadn’t even got off the ground. Far from that, Rhonda gave us a lovely flight along Lake Michigan with fabulous views of the city. We had lunch at a Mexican restaurant in another airport before putting the plane to bed.
After that we were taken to a fabulous temple that TM had admired from the air – it was truly beautiful and very peaceful. Rhonda did recommend the gardens as being very pretty, which they were. We were then fortunate enough to be taken back to her home and introduced to Mr Buss and the dogs. Gracie welcomed us by charging round the garden at high speed whilst Little Bit was more restrained but no less delightful. It was a real privilege to meet the whole Buss family, and not one I had expected when I made my initial request. We enjoyed a drink and a chat before a real Chicago deep pan pizza. If you thought you had eaten one of these in the UK I have to tell you that you are sadly mistaken. This was absolutely wonderful! It’s probably just as well I don’t live in Chicago otherwise I would be twice the size.
Rhonda was featured in the latest issue of Sew News with her Ginger jeans,which she also did a blog post about. If I hadn’t made the Jeanius pattern that now serves me so well I would be trying that pattern for my Mood fabric.
We are home now with wonderful memories of a trip that would have been a good one, but turned out to be a great one as a result of meeting two wonderful people – whom I sincerely hope to meet again. Thank you again Rhonda and Mr Buss for giving myself and The Management such a day to remember!
Catch up postPosted: September 29, 2015 Filed under: Aspire Channel Swim, Swimming, Travel | Tags: Exercise, Swimming, Travel 16 Comments
Confession time. When I published my last post I was on holiday with The Management in Croatia – the promised sunshine (although not technically Winter sun so maybe I can get another break on a technicality?). Unbelievably, although I wore both the yellow skirt and trousers there isn’t a photograph at all! As I take
most all of our photographs there are rarely any photographs of me on holiday. He could take someone else and no-one would be any the wiser.
Anyway, if you did check on my swimming progress last week and wondered if I was on the bottom of the pool that is the explanation. I have been to the pool since our return so I think I may be back on track – I had fallen behind target slightly by the end of week 2.
On a sewing note I have taped the Paprika Jasper hoodie pattern together and copying that , and hopefully cutting out my fabric, is a job for today along with sorting out holiday photographs (which I have started).
I leave you with a Saint. This picture of Saint Lucy was in a church in Skradin where we stopped to have lunch. Whilst I found the eyes on a dish a bit gory I was intrigued by the cotton reels and what appeared to be a ball of yarn (or a pom-pom). This is Saint Lucy who is apparently the patron saint of the blind and those with eye-trouble. I imagine the lace makers of Croatia must have had occasion to have prayed to her for assistance. There are a few dressmakers I know who would be glad of her help on occasion too.
More haste, more disappointmentPosted: March 20, 2015 Filed under: Dressmaking, Travel | Tags: Dressmaking, Travel 22 Comments
Yet again I have rushed work for myself – with predictable results.
I had a mad busy February, with almost all of my time taken up with two long standing clients with big orders. I couldn’t have predicted this – and my decision to reduce work (mainly by not taking new people, and pulling my telephone listing so I am harder to find!) could have made no difference to this situation. I love working for both these people so I just had to get stuck in.
I had planned to make myself a few new things before going on holiday to Lanzarote a couple of weeks ago. I even bought the fabric well in advance to ensure I was all sorted. And then I ran out of time and rushed the job. Rats. The Management has pointed out that no-one but me gets such poor service, and that I would never rush a clients order the way I do my own work. I know he is absolutely right. Welcome to the world of the professional dressmaker.
Anyway, the sorry details.
First up is a pair of leggings in white scuba lycra. Intended always to be worn with long t-shirts/tunics I thought they would be a great advantage to a holiday wardrobe. This was lovely, thick, opaque, lycra fabric – there is no way I would have considered leggings in white if it hadn’t been so nice. I realised it didn’t have quite as much stretch as the other fabrics I had made my pattern up with so I added a quarter inch onto the side seams. ‘What about along the length?’ I hear you say. Yup, that was the problem. They fit OK across the width but they could do with a bit more body length. And I always intended them to be above the ankle. Honest. Wearable, but only just. No photos as I couldn’t bear to show such a scew up.
Next was that wonderful Vena Cava dress I made before. It was such an amazing dress even made up in such tatty fabric that I was delighted with the scuba lycra I got that looked almost like a cloque. And it is orange! You all know I can’t pass up orange fabric by now. It didn’t seem very thick, handled beautifully, and sewed up in a flash. Perhaps I should have stood back a bit off the pedal and tried this on a couple of times before sealing it up. Again, the lycra clearly didn’t stretch quite as much, and the fabric was a bit thick to be persuaded into all of those tucks over my tummy. I still like the dress, and can (and will) wear it – but it would look better if I lost a few pounds. Again, no photos of me but I persuaded Bessie into the dress.
There is no-one to blame but myself for these flops, and whilst I might seem as though I am having a whinge (and I suppose I am a bit) I have fessed up to this so that anyone else thinking that they have fouled up because of lack of experience can see that even someone who should really know better can do it if they don’t give things enough attention. I am determined that the next project gets full attention, and I can finish something I will be proud to wear.
To finish, a nice picture of a tower of stones which were all over the water front in Playa Blanca where we were staying on Lanzarote. Anyone know why they do this?