Saturday, December 24, 2016

Patchwork jeans for The Little Madam

Just so you know that sometimes I am quite successful in my sewing projects,here's a pair of too-skinny Pumpkin Patch jeans that I bought off TradeMe for TLM.

  I inserted a long triangle of mixed denim patches down each leg and turned them into flares. 

Actually the pocket topstitching is quite fetching and I might try to copy that for a future garment for myself.

In case you're interested, I did manage to improve the fit of my jeans (in the previous post). After buying and reading the Closet Case Files guide on sewing jeans I tried taking in the inseam along each leg. It seems to have worked. I'll post up a photo some time.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2016

These are not the jeans I was looking to make

I decided to have a go at making my own jeans, since there are now quite a few sewing patterns for jeans.

The really popular ones are from Indie designers and they cost about $30. So, despite hearing great things about Morgan jeans from Closet Case files (and others), I went for a cheaper pattern to save money.

McCalls 6610 has had a number of positive reviews so that's the one I bought from PatternPostie.

I first made a test pair in stretch navy needlecord, because 1) I got the fabric cheap, and 2) since I don't much wear cord I wouldn't care much if it didn't work out.

Unfortunately it's really hard to see fitting issues on really dark material which hasn't got any contrast stitching on it. So I made a second test garment in stretch indigo denim which I also got cheap on sale.

As before, I cut a size 12 at the hips (going up to 14 or more at the waist and down to a 10 at the legs) even though my measurements would point to a 14 at the hips. But I possibly should have cut a 10 at the hips because the whole garment looks oversized in my opinion (you'll see when you get to the photos).

I did a bunch of fit adjustments, after following a page of fit instructions that came with the pattern. I also made the same adjustments that I'd made on my previous trouser makes e.g. scooping the back crotch seam to accommodate my low-hanging bum, going down a size on the legs and going up at least one size up the waist, adding to the front crotch seam to accommodate the inner thighs, removing from the back crotch seam because there's always too much fabric in the back, shortening the crotch depth at the front, adding to the crotch depth at the back (because the last pair didn't come up high enough), shortening the legs...

I even went as far as taking measurements from a shop-bought pair I like the fit of, and using these to help me decide on the adjustments for the pattern.

From here they look pretty good, eh? (I haven't hemmed them yet as I want to put them through at least another potentially shrinking wash first)

Below is a close-up of the front. You can see that my top-stitching is great except when it's located in an extremely visible place i.e. the fly. You might be able to discern that I've used two different colours for my topstitching thread - bright yellow and bronze.
And below is a closer-up, where you can see I didn't have much choice in jeans buttons. It was either the spares that came with previously bought Max jeans or these cheesy USA! buttons like the one you see below.
You'll also notice I didn't quite manage the sewing tension right - I had the thicker topstitching thread in the top and normal thread in the bobbin. I didn't want to muck around with the bobbin tension so limited myself to adjusting the top tension. It didn't really work, but the stitches seem strong enough.
That's the relatively good news. Don't look at the following images if you are offended by old-lady butt.
I'm not proud of this butt. I think I will have to do a flat-butt adjustment (it's a real thing) next time. Last time I tried that there wasn't enough room in the back, so I will have to do more research. The pockets are also way too big and maybe a little too low ( I should have listened to the blogosphere). Also, those damned wrinkles just above the knees. 
The front view is not quite as bad, in my opinion.
The legs are also way wider than I would like, even though I was going for a straight leg. It's probably not helped by the fact this is a super stretchy denim, so it stretches out a lot with wear (it's really best used for skinny jeans I think).


I'm pretty sure my shop-bought jeans fit way better than this, so I must be the only sewer who can't make her jeans fit as well as her ready to where.

I don't want to work with high stretch denim any more (the only reason I have any is because that's what was on sale). A little bit might make fitting easier, but lots of it makes fitting harder and also makes topstitching harder to do without causing it to stretch out of shape. If I do use this stuff again I will cut the pieces on a single layer of fabric rather than folded double which is the usual procedure. These legs got a bit twisted, which may or may not have caused some of the back leg wrinkles.

I have some really rigid denim but I'm aware that no stretch at all will make it hard to get the fit right too.

I think this pattern is probably no worse than any of the other jeans patterns by the mainstream pattern companies. I just need to find one that is close to ready to wear in cut.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Sewing successes (2)

Here are a couple of photos of one of my more successful trouser sews (mentioned in an earlier blog post.
Here's a closeup of the button, button fly and contrast waistband lining. The same fabric lines the pockets.
This is Simplicity 1430, made in very stretchy denim that I got from the Fabric Store on sale. I cut a size 12 at the hips (widening up towards the waist) and blending into a size 10 on the legs. I also shortened the legs, of course.

Normally I wouldn't wear them with cow-skin slippers, so just imagine I've got stylish slingbacks on my feet 
instead. No doubt the trousers would have looked better if I didn't have my hands in the pockets, but I wanted to show off that there were pockets... they are slant pockets.

I didn't interface the waistband and I may end up unpicking that bit of the waistband and adding some layer of stiffening to keep the button end of the band from folding over when I bend.

I'm pretty happy with the fit.

Next up, some tunics.
This is KwikSew 3161. Once I worked out that I needed to cut a smaller size at the shoulder (which was a revelation, as I'd always thought I was broad in the shoulder), I liked it so much I made second one. This one's in an organic cotton I bought at Spotlight, and the other one was made in a purple linen (not shown).

Then I wanted to make a long sleeved version of the top that came with Simplicity 1430. Rather than try to adjust the pattern to fit a sleeve, I decided to modify the KwikSew pattern to make it more like the Simplicity top. Below is a close-up of the neckline detail I was after.

The Simplicity top has a zip at the back but I didn't want to put a zip in mine, so I just re-cut the neckline to ensure I could get it over my head. This fabric is actually a cotton bedsheet that I bought from the Salvation Army Family Store for $5. I still have half of it left for another project. The only thing about this fabric is that it's a bit see-through so I have to wear something under it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

On shaky ground

In case you are concerned about the welfare of me and mine since the massive earthquake at midnight on Sunday - we are fine. Our house shook a swayed a fair bit on the night, sent us gentle reminders throughout Monday, and had us diving under our desks today at work.

Work and school were cancelled on Monday, which was a relief because we were all very sleep deprived (that's what happens when your daughter crawls into bed with you and, over the course of the night, steals your duvet and leaves you clinging to the very edge of the mattress).

At home only a couple of knick-knacks fell off the shelf. At work we were mainly affected by a big water tank upstairs falling over and leaking its contents all over our kitchen - though I noticed that two of the big round windows in the stairwell were either cracked all or blown in and boarded over.

We really should replace our emergency water at home.
At least at work I have replenished my civil defence kit with five Whittakers peanut slabs. If I ever get stuck at work in a natural disaster I will have enough to last me maybe a day...

Anyway, this is pretty small stuff compared to what's happened closer to the epicentre of the quake. Huge cracks and rifts in the roads and farmlands, seabeds lifted up into the air, landslides destroying road and tunnels, livestock stranded on quake islands - my heart goes out to the people who live there.

Friday, October 07, 2016

My holiday was pants (and tunics)

After the last two pairs of trousers I sewed up (the first - a basic style with a back zipper and no pockets or waistband -  was successful; the second - more ambitious but ultimately fitting failure), I was on a roll. Then the latest season of Great British Sewing Bee started here, so there was no stopping me.

During my week off (ostensibly taken to spend time with TLM, who is on school holidays, and the boy, who is still between jobs) I was hellbent on sewing more trousers until I produced more pairs of fitting successes.

Trousers number 3 were based on the muslin that produced trousers number 1 (which fit me well but for which I was a bit slack with recording the adjustments), in a light poplin-y fabric of navy with with dots. I was finding it a bit loose around the highs and waist. Then I decided it was because that fabric really wanted to be elastic waisted jogger-style trousers.  So I took out the zipper, put an elasticated waistband and inserted elastic cuffs into the hems. They now fit alright, although it would have benefited from a decrease in the front crotch.

(Lesson: definitely shorten the front crotch next time, maybe lengthen the back crotch).

For trousers number 4 I used an old Vogue pattern which offered two views: high waisted, jeans-style pockets and tapered; hight waisted, inseam pockets and tapered. Because it is an old pattern. The only other time I used this sewing pattern was to make some faux leather trousers to wear to a pre-millennial Village People-themed pub crawl. That's how old it is.

Guess what - it fit me almost perfectly, once I'd let out the front inseam, scooped out the centre back curve, taken in the outer leg seams quite a lot and drafted a new waistband to fit my wider waist. Although they fit well in the sense that it is relatively free of bagging and wrinkles around the crucial hip and thigh areas, the legs are still much wider than I'd like. These were made in a light grey denim. I have effectively made mom jeans (though I made the view with the inseam pockets rather than the jeans pockets). Also the back wants to fall down a bit and the front is a little high.

Nevertheless, I'm calling this a great success and will wear them to work.

(Lesson: I really really should shorten that front crotch and lengthen the back the next time. And work out how to slim down the legs without creating new wrinkles).

Then I made two tunic tops in a row. I used a Kwik Sew pattern. It is great, except for these things:

  • the seam allowance is 3 mm. That's crazy narrow, and obviously intended for sewer who overlock (serge)
  • It was way too big at the shoulders, yet fit fine everywhere else. So for the second top I cut a small in the shoulder and armscye then a medium elsewhere.
  • The sleeve would not fit into the armscye. Both times. This meant I had to take it in further at the sides in order for the sleeves to fit.
I do intend to put some photos up, but I just can't bring myself to ask the boy or TLM to take any more pictures of my backside.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The last of the knits and lessons learned in pants fitting

After I finished knitting this scarf (from an unravelled failure. It's edged in i-cord,  but you can't see it because the sides roll in so it looks like a narrow tube. I do like the tweedy texture though - from a stitch in the first Barbara Walker book - so might use it one day to make a Chanel-type jacket).

I knitted this cardigan -
Then, because I was on a yarn diet (for budgetary reasons), have way too many hand knits anyway, I am switching codes - to sewing.

I have nearly finished a pair of curved-waistband trousers, in a stubby linen/cotton blend. These took way too long to fit, seeing as I based then on my curse-busting muslin (see earlier post). I bought three more lots of fabric to practice pants-fitting on: some non-stretch grey denim,  some blue organic cotton and some navy poplin with tiny polka dots. It's fantastic that Spotlight is right next door to the Fabric Warehouse.

Going by the last two pairs I made, I've concluded that my main pants-fitting modifications should be:

  • extra space on the inseam (for my generous inner thighs), just down to the knee 
  • less space on the outseam (for my stingy outer thighs), also down to the knee, and 
  • a deeper crotch curve (for my low-hanging bottom). 

That's aside from the obvious shortening of the legs (which are so short they only come up to my knees).

Also - baste! Using thread in a contrasting colour! Definitely not using the thread you need for your final sew!

The next step up in trouser-making will be to add pockets with pocket stays (to keep my slightly protruding tummy from falling out).

Sunday, September 04, 2016

The lifting of the trouser curse

I have tried, and failed, many times to sew a pair of trousers that would fit be well. There were near-misses and epic fails, but never a finished product that I was happy with.

In Season Two of the Great British Sewing Bee, the contestants had to made velvet trousers for themselves. This challenge was meant to test their ability to sew with difficult fabrics, but I was terribly envious that they could make themselves trousers at all.

As any sewer will tell you, it's not the construction that's a pain in the butt - its the fitting of them.

Today I had a trouser triumph, and that came about when I realised that I have been cutting a size too big. I don't know why it took so long for me to come to this conclusion, because I've already made a few tops that turned too roomy even for my tastes.

Not that going down a size was a magic bullet though - I still had to made some tweaks:

  • take some width from the outside leg seams from the hip down
  • add some width the inside leg seams just around the inner thigh
  • add a tiny bit of width at the centre front, from crotch to about half way up.
  • remove about an inch of the top
I'm so happy.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Am I too old for denim jackets?

I'm already thinking of what I want for my birthday present, even though it's a couple of month's away. I want a denim jacket. I've spent a number of lunch hours scouring the range of denim jacket styles on offer, including frequent visits to opportunity shops and on TradeMe.

And the one I want is the Levi's Boyfriend Trucker denim jacket, in mid-blue rigid denim (rigid, so it will take longer to lose shape with repeated washing and wearing). I've figured out that if I only ever button it up at the two middle buttons, it can look shapely rather than boxy.

Now, I have tried and failed a couple of times in the last few years to sew a light jacket suitable for spring and autumn, in both denim and other fabrics - but neither of them have turned out to have the right silhouette or amount of structure.

I've since discovered the Style Arc Stacie sewing pattern and now know to look for 14 oz denim, so I could sew it myself and make it exactly the size, shape and style I want. What would be great is a collarless version of a trucker jacket with waist shaping, mid-hip length and in a really dark blue. But that's never going to happen as I don't have the time or patience at the moment (and that's assuming I can find the right denim). Plus my fitting skills are less than genius.

So anyway, how old is too old to wear a denim jacket?

A break from knitting

After I used up the last of my Malabrigo Arroyo yarn to make myself a cardigan, I ran out of virgin yarn. So when I wanted to make TLM a new pullover for winter, I decided to unravel two older cardigans that she had stopped wearing because they weren't oversized enough. But since I finished that (photos later) I seem to have lost my need to knit.

It's probably partly because I now have too many hand knits, and partly because the weather has been so spring-like that I just don't want to think about cold weather garments any more.

In the meantime, TLM turned eleven and acquired a bike. She is only just learning to ride, and the bike is big enough that she is only just tall enough to ride it. But I'm optimistic. It's gotta be easier to learn anything at the age of 11 than it is at middle age!

I have been neglecting my kombucha bug. Ever since I found a supermarket that sells miso paste in decent-sized tubs I've not felt the need to drink kombucha - but I'm sure that will change once it gets a lot warmer. In the meantime I'm sure the current batch is aging into some powerful vinegar.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016


We were having a wonderfully mild winter, when suddenly winter just crashed the party and drank all the alcohol. Since then it's felt like we are getting a crash course on coldness, wetness and windiness.

And funnily enough, all this happened soon after the spring fashions started appearing in all of the shops...

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Bums off seats

We have been making  lot of use of the Pokemon Go game, since it became available.

At first I thought it was just going to be played by the sort of geeks who have to be the first to  try out new tech, plus fans of the original Pokemon games.

A couple of days later I realised it was a proper phenomenon, bigger than the must less useful selfie phenomenon. At least Pokemon Go has gotten plenty of otherwise sedentary folks off their bums and out into the world (albeit augmented).

The boy and TLM have been out and about catching Poke-people every day since the school holidays started - to my delight, because the alternative would have been far less physically active.

I took TLM and her buddy out for a Pokemon hunt this afternoon. When I say that I took them out, what I mean is that I trailed behind as they skipped and ran ahead up through the forest, up and down  mountain bike tracks. I was really just there to ensure they didn't get lost or drop the boy's smartphone over a cliff.

I am very proud to say that TLM actually wore me out this afternoon. When I was ready to head home she was happy to continue hopping over tree roots and bush-bashing in search of cartoony creatures with funny names.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

From coat to coat

I had this old faux-shearling coat that no-one wanted to buy off me - even for 20 bucks.

So I cut it up and made a re-sized version for The Little Madam

She had to promise me that she'd wear it to school (not just at home)

Friday, May 20, 2016

Seafood in marijuana sauce

"We're having seafood in marijuana sauce, daddy!" said TLM

"Ah, no," replied the boy, "it's marinara".

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Is this a hot flush or do I just have a temperature?

It's that time of my life.

Occasionally the boy will feel my neck and remark on how hot it feels, and sometimes - on a not very hot night - I wake up a bit sweaty.

Two days ago the boy stated confidently that I have been getting hot flushes, hence the occasional warmer-than-usual skin temps.

Then the boy started getting "hot flushes". He declared that men get menopause too.

This morning he'd decided he just has a cold, and that I must have given it to him.

Monday, May 02, 2016

How Pinterest is ruining my thriftiness...

...well it would be.

Ever since I belatedly caught onto the appeal of "pinning" things I like the look of, I have found myself yearning for collarless designer jackets, Japanese-style overdresses and - most specifically - some cherry red leather brogues with platform soles.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), I can't afford any of those things. So while Pinterest has made me want beautiful things, it hasn't turned me into a bigger shopper.

How my kombucha is brewing

I was followed the recipe so carefully when making my first brew.

But I have started to forget something each time I do a new brew.
When making the second batch, I forgot to save some of the mother tea from the previous batch and only remembered a couple of days later. When I remembered, I poured in some that I had bottled and put in the fridge. I spent the next few days looking for signs of mould on the scoby.

When making the third and fourth batches, I forgot to add the sugar until the tea was already tepid so I had a lot of stirring to do!  I spent the next few days looking for signs of mould on the scoby.

The latest batch has cranberry juice added for the second fermentation. It's a bit sweeter than the previous batches but still has the nice tanginess.

The only thing missing from my brews is the effervescence, and I think that might be because I'm bottling the stuff in old wine bottles. They are screw tops, but I suspect they aren't quite air tight.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Prince Day and a belated LP-appreciation day

I was of course sad to hear that Prince had died, although I haven't listened to his music on a regular basis since my thirties. Back in the last 80's-early 90's, I went to see him live in Edinburgh, had his of hits on constant rotation and hung out with at least one male friend who styled himself like The Purple One.

So today I have been playing the entirety of my (small) Prince collection, but turned down low because some of those lyrics are really inappropriate for a ten-year-old to hear.

Today I also sorted out my collection of LPs, in readiness to sell them off to a local second hand record shop. (While it would have been nice to keep them and play them again, we don't have a record-player - nor the space or funds to acquire one).

The shop turned out to be closed when I got there, so they are back in our hallway. I will miss the records of my favourite NZ bands (The Chills, The Verlaines, The Bats, Sneaking Feelings, Wild Poppies) and overseas indie bands (Siouxsie and the Banshees) - not so much the Jackson Browne albums (I grew away from California rock waaaay back).

But it was only while searching the Internet to get an idea of whether my records are worth much, that I found I can listen to alot of my old favourites on YouTube. I even found the Wild Poppies, whom I had always believed to be some obscure local band that didn't get anywhere - well it turns out they were quite a popular live band in the UK back in the eighties. It's just fantastic.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

A month of it

I have been sick with one or more cold viruses for about a month now. I'm just sick of it.

Off the needles

I completed a few knits recently:
An elbow length tee knit from chunky cotton - after I took this photo I  re-knit the torso so it has the yellow strip going around the chest instead. 

This turned out a wee bit too fitted around the armhole, which means I can only comfortably wear it over a thin layer...
A pretty beanie for the boy, knit from Skeinz merino dk. He likes it, and that's all that matters. I took this photo while he was at his computer, because that's where he spends the most time.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

On the kombucha wagon

After taste-testing a range of Booch (commercially brewed and flavoured kombucha by the Goodbuzz Company) flavours the summer before last, I became a bit addicted to the stuff. It is supposed to be very good for you, I really liked the tasted, and the barely-detectable alcohol content was enough to make me smiley all afternoon (I am a cheap drunk).

But lately I've not been buying the Booch due to budget constraints. I missed it sorely and have been hoping the brewer doesn't go out of business just because I stopped buying it every day.

But now I can potentially become my own supplier of Booch-similar product, because one of my workmates gave me a kombucha scoby and I am the second-fermentation phase of my very own batch.

It's all very exciting, especially when I read about people's glass bottles blowing up because of excess carbon dioxide build-up...

Monday, March 28, 2016

Holiday weekends wait for no virus - and beware of errant undies

TLM is getting over her second cold of the month - normally for her a cold is done and dusted within a few days with maybe two days off school, but this time around she stayed home for the 4 days before Easter and has only just started easing off on the nasal dribblings.

After demolishing three boxes of tissues and about 5 loo rolls I was worried that there'd be nothing left of our grocery budget by the time she's done.

Then I got her cold, which was also my second cold of the month. (Though lately my colds don't manifestly nasally; it's more a case of terrible headaches and brain fuzz followed by wheezing and coughing. )

But dammit, I'd already booked for our accommodation in Ohakune and would lose my deposit if we cancelled - so we went.

It went swimmingly well actually. TLM, newly introduced to reusable tissues (that is, handkerchiefs),   kept her snots under control and the boy and I didn't feel the urge to pluck dried snots that were stuck on TLM's septum. My own cold has been arrested and I put it down to finishing a whole bottle of lemon, honey and manuka syrup over three days. We went for forest walks, played board games and relaxed with the friends we were holidaying with.

We stayed at the Top Ten Holiday Park there, in a kitchen cabin. That means your cabin has a kitchen (as well as beds, a bedroom and a tv) but you have to use the communal bathroom. Normally it wouldn't appeal but their communal bathroom is actually pretty nice and the showers are amazing.

The only problem with external bathrooms is that when I go there to have a shower I always forget to bring all of the clothes I want to change into post-shower; and I always forget to bring a bag for the dirty clothes. So when I got dressed after my shower I had to tuck my unclean undies into the waistband of my leggings (so I wouldn't have to be seen clutching them in my hands).

Of course I forgot to remove said undies after returning to our cabin - and only remembered after we'd packed all our stuff into the car, the boy had started the car and I was trying to sit down and put my seat belt on.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Why I enjoy having a swan plant

They came, they ate, they chrysalized on our back door frame, and then they emerged and fluttered away.

I made a top out of hexagons

Hmmm, I thought. This could go either way. A top made of hexagons. In different colours.
Either I'll wear it out on the street and people who pass me will mentally say "what a shocker!" Or I'll wear it out on the street and people won't notice because there are already a number of people in my neighbourhood who dress funny.

In any case I'll have to wait for it to get a lot colder as this is made of wool. I plan to wear it over long sleeve tops. Whether I do so out of the house or not will just have to wait until then...

I bet you want to make one too now. Have a look on my Ravelry page for details.

The lemon that looked like a pair of boobs

Our lemon tree is chock full of small, ripe lemons (due to lack of proper pruning) so I got out my secateurs, gruntingly shifted the rubbish bin over so I could use it to get some height, and harvested me some organic lemons.

It was the boy who found this one, amusing shaped like a pair of breasts nipples and all.

If you hold it points-up, it takes on a mildly devilish appearance ("devil's dumplings!"- a Blackadder reference)
But this lemon's odd form could not save it from becoming lemonade.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Shopping the wardrobe

Would it be weird to wear a ten-year-old pair of perfectly nice black maternity trousers, even though that's how long's been since I was last pregnant?

It's the big stretchy panel at the top that gives it away.

FYI I did wear them a few times as yoga pants, but I could definitely have passed as "expecting" (it would be the non-flat belly that did it).

Stories that make you go "hmm..."

When I'm in the library looking for something to read that isn't knitting or sewing related, I find browsing the Librarian's Choice shelf is often quite successful.

The most recent good find is a book of short stories called Fortune Smiles, by Adam Johnson. The author apparently won a Pulitzer Prize of an earlier novel (The Orphan Master's Son).

It's just great. The stories are sad but not poignant. There were no chuckles whatsoever to relieve the tragedy. But the people in them haunted me and made me realise how much I just don't know about people.

Like, there's one about a former warden of an East German political prison who can't accept that anything really bad ever happened in there (and anyway they deserved it). And the one about the survivor of child sex abuse who struggles to do something positive with his life. Serious themes, but don't run away from them - it's worth it.

Soaking in the sun

Even in the summer, it's unusual here for overnight temperatures to go so high as to make it hard to fall asleep - for it to be so hot at night that (gasp) the only option is to cover yourself with just a duvet cover.

No cover at all would be another option, except every time I have tried to sleep uncovered I have woken up with the sound of a mozzie buzzing in my face. TLM already has a couple of big, hive-y bites on her arm and so does the boy.

Last weekend TLM was in the Chinese New Year Parade (and I was there as a parade marshall), along with a number of other dancers who trained intensively over the school holidays specifically for this day.

I was worried they'd all get sunstroke as they had no shade whatsoever, but after the late-starting parade, getting ready to go onstage and finally the performance, they seemed thankfully okay.  (and TLM perked up heaps once she ate the curry and rice I bought her from the food hall - after realising I'd forgotten to pack her afternoon snack).

Maybe it's just us oldies who are at risk on hot and sunny days.

We went to the city beach today for one of our walk-and-eat-ice cream outings, and it was pretty full. Mostly full of tanned back-packers, that is..but as long as they litter or do anything appropriate I guess it's okay with me.

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.