Monday, February 01, 2016

An attempt at making a cropped cardigan work for me

 I have been thinking about making a shrug but liked the look of some of those cropped cardigans that keep...uh...cropping up all over the web.

I make this out of black merino dk from Touch Yarns and made an elongated edging out of two different multicoloured yarns: a thick and thin merino from Touch Yarns (discontinued, even if I could remember what it was called) and a wool/mohair blend from Anna Gratton. 

The idea was to elongate the silhouette with the extra-long edging as I was worried a cropped shape wouldn't be flattering on my un-model-like shape. 

It kinda works, visually. But practically, it doesn't really. DK merino is far too warm for cool summer mornings/evenings. Plus the sleeve length doesn't work over a t-shirt. So I will probably try wearing this again in autumn, over something like a longer sleeved tunic or dress.

The knitting pattern is Butterscotch Bolero from West Yorkshire Spinners.

Me-made sunhat

When I accidentally dropped my favourite sunhat somewhere in the Countdown supermarket, I initially thought it would be an excuse to go shopping for a new one.  But I could not really justify the off-budget spending because I do have other sunhats.

Then I got the idea to make one myself. I found a tutorial on Youtube (called Weekly Sewing Bee), watched half of it, then go to work.

The materials I used were bits of old jeans and leftover fabric from my grey denim jacket. They really were just bits, because I'd previously cannibalised the same jeans to make a pair of long shorts for TLM (more about them when they have been laundered and I can get a photo). 

A quick sew job, I tried to follow the tutorial instructions and tweaked it as I went. I made flat fell seams at all of the vertical joins, but not on the horizontal seams. I used leftover bias binding (from the grey denim jacket) to tidy up the brim, and took in the crown a bit to improve the fit. Obviously this hat is not going to win any hat-making prizes, however I am quite pleased with how it turned out.

I need a sunhat for my house-painting tasks this week (just touching up around the windows, where it's flaking like a really good pastry) and this would be the obvious choice. But I'm reluctant to get it covered in paint.

A leafy blue beret

I knitted this out of Zealana Heron, using the Press Leaves beret pattern in Alana Dakos' book Botanical Knits. I had the idea of making this for a present for a friend who really likes beret, and wanted to use up the single ball of Zealand Heron in my stash. Of course this was not enough so I had to break my yarn diet to buy a second ball in order to finish it.

Lemons as big as oranges!

Our trusty lemon tree has been very generous this spring and summer. Twice now we have harvested enough to make a dozen lemon juice ice cubes plus a weeks' worth of lemon syrup (for homemade lemonade).

Being a tall and wide tree, I often looked wistfully at the really big lemons that I just could not reach (without chopping most of the branches off and using these to construct a climbing frame to the top).

But occasionally we got a windfall of extra-large fruit that we just have to record for posterity.

There was no-one around to help me hold the measuring tape against it, but you can see its size relative to a standard glass tumbler.

TLM was available for this one, which measured out at 10.5cm long.

Alas, both lemons are no longer as they have long since been consumed...

Friday, January 08, 2016

It only hurts when I walk, sit, stand or change position

Last Christmas/New Year I had the opportunity to practice the fine art of saying "No bloody way", when a friend asked me to help her move. I failed.

Anyway, to cut a middling story short and preserve my friendship, I'll just say that in my rush to get it over and done with as soon as possible (on a hot a sunny day) I overdid things.

It didn't happen overnight, but it did happen...about a week later, when I tried to get up from sitting on the floor (playing with the colouring books I got for Christmas) and found it impossible to do without making lots of hurt-y noises.

But I have managed, with the help of hot baths, Deep Heat ointment, and exercising extreme care when doing anything, to go to work this week.

It's definitely harder if I'm trying to get somewhere in a hurry, sitting down a lot, or trying to use the standing desk in our office for the entire day.

It's not going to ruin my weekend though.  I'll just be taking it slowly and letting the boy do all the heaving lifting.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Four summer items and a winter one

It's halfway through my Christmas/New Year holidays and I'm really enjoying having the time to relax, go for walks, read, knit and sew. 

This week has been one of mostly sewing (but some knitting), mostly alterations (but some new things).

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Above is the one new sewn item, my take on Butterick 4593 in navy merino. My fabric choice was pretty much down to what I have in my existing fabric stash (this merino is from a failed dress project). The orange bit you see in the left armhole is in fact binding, which you won't be able to see when I'm actually wearing it. I made this so that I'd have something to go with my three pairs of linen trousers. It's in dire need of a pressing but as I'd already spent most of the day sewing it, that's just going to have to wait.

Above is a close up view of one of my alterations. This is a fix-up of last February's attempt at a Japanese-style over-sized dress. I replaced the bodice with the one you see here (below is the full view). It's a big improvement, probably down to the more flattering neckline. 

The bodice is a stiff grey-blue cotton and the skirt is a super-soft jacquard linen. 

Below is a hat I made from a ball of yarn that I got as a Secret Santa present. It's a mixture of blues and greens mostly (though you can't really see that from the photo) plus a chunky lime green merino for the ribbing. It was supposed to be for the boy but it actually fits pretty closely on me. More details on Ravelry.
Below is the second of the alterations I completed this week. A tunic originally made from McCalls 8108 (a surprisingly well used pattern as I have several tops and dresses made from this pattern and customised), I shortened it to mid-hip, took it in at the sides and added the mini-ruffle at centre front. Now it no longer looks like hospital scrubs.
The last of the alterations is this re-interpretation of Simplicity 2927 below. I've had success with the sleeveless tunic version of this Project Runway pattern as well as the short petal-sleeve version.

But before I'd finished the elbow length sleeve version I had to stop and put it all away for a couple of years because I discovered knitting and had no time for sewing.

When I finally got it out again, lack of sewing practice made me stuff up the neckline so I'd had to change it a bit to get it to almost work. But I never wore it. So this week I replaced the neckline again and shortened the hem to mid-hip.  Hopefully this is the summer I will wear it.
Although it looks like I've used two different colour fabrics to make this, it's actually just the one. the side panels and neckline are made with the "wrong" side facing out.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas in the sun

Merry Christmas everyone!

We are so lucky with our Christmas Day weather today - it's warm, sunny and there's hardly any wind at all (just enough to stop you from getting uncomfortable).

After our present-opening session (thanks to our UK family we had a stack of wonderful gifts to unwrap) and follow-up phone calls to afore-mentioned family, we set about playing with our presents.

In other words, The Little Madam and the boy both played on their respective computer games.

While they were doing that, I did the obligatory cleaning that is necessary if we want our friends to come over and not run away screaming as soon as they see the state of our living environment - mopping, vacuuming, tidying away, a spot of weeding...

TLM and I also spend time filling in our colouring-in books (which is so HOT right now) in the back yard, which I wasn't able to stop doing until I was in danger of getting sunburned.

And then I went for a walk up the hill behind our house, up to the lookout from which you can see the clear blue sky, the sea blue and blurry from the breezes, the grass and leaves still green and, and the occasional group of picnickers recovering from Christmas lunch.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Springing forward and singing in the dark

With the weather improving in fits and starts, I went for a walk with a friend one weekend and found our local version of Easter Island.

We also went up the hill last Saturday night, just TLM and I, to watch the Guy Fawkes fireworks display. What I forgot is that most people drive half way up the hill and walk the rest of the way, whereas we walked all the way up and would have to walk all the way back again in the dark (albeit torchlit). 
So, after the fireworks ended, TLM and I walked confidently down the hill - until halfway down when I realised we were all alone. Then I noticed the light from the torch was fading. do you know what saved us from panicking? Singing Maori songs at the tops of our voices and hoping the battery  didn't run out completely.

I've also been knitting. First up is this raglan sleeve denim knit with three quarter sleeves and a little lacy insert in the middle of the chest. More details on Ravelry.

Next is another raglan sleeve jumper, this time with a random-striped body and sleeves with all-over eyelets. It's a mixture of cottoned acrylic. More on Ravelry.

And lastly, in anticipation of warmer temperatures still, a singlet made from leftover denim yarn plus blue yarn scraps (hence the multi toned stripes). Details on Ravelry.

Thanks, folks, for your messages of sympathy about my mum. I still often get this feeling that I'm supposed to be somewhere, doing something. Plus I live just up the road from the rest home where she live, so there's no escape really.

Thursday, October 01, 2015


When our mum died last Friday morning, my brother and I were present. I held her hand and we talked to her as her breathing slowed, slowed until it stopped completely.

I was glad that we were there at the end. But I don't know if she was aware of us.

She was probably aware of our presence the night before, after the doctor had given her something to calm her down, after she urged us to come to the rest home because this might be our last chance to see mum alive.

When we saw her that night mum was snoring loudly, sleeping deeply. Probably, it was the best sleep she'd had in weeks if not months. There was a moment when she was semi-awake and made us think she wanted to get up and go to the loo. Then we realised mum was still asleep, so we and the nurse and the carer lay her back down on her bed.

That was probably the time to talk to mum, when she was still not so deeply asleep that I couldn't be sure she was still with us.

The next morning we returned to the bedside and mum was no longer snoring, just breathing. I worry now that she was already gone by then and we were just watching her body go through the motions until it couldn't any more. By then it is too late to hold hands and say comforting things, isn't it?

Sunday, September 06, 2015

a pink knit

Knit from Maniototo wool in barn red.

More details on Ravelry.

I have so many hand knits, all of which have to be dried flat after washing, that by this time of year I'm hesitant to bring out another one from my box (of finished knits) to wear. But as it's Father's Day and I was taking the family out for lunch I decided to go for it.

It is perhaps not as A-line as I'd hoped, but I still like it - mostly because I love the collar.

It's funny how it's not until I see a photo of my outfits, that I see the flaws in them. Like, in this case, how the long sleeved tee Im wearing with this has such baggy sleeves.

Full-on fair-isle part two

This is where I have go to with my boxy sweater. Since the photo was taken I've narrow the sleeves significantly so that now they are almost too tight (not intentionally). But it is now finished (unless I get around to re-sewing the sleeves).
More pictures on the Ravelry post.