Monday, January 28, 2013

When in doubt read the manual

The challenge tonight was to insert a zip into my Hollyburn skirt. It was only my second zip ever, and the first one I did in sewing class. I knew my Janome sewing machine came with several different feet when I bought it; I knew I had a zipper foot ( plain not invisible) but wasn't sure which one it was. Google, youtube and the Janome website did not help. Finally, about two hours later as a last resort I checked, and yes,an illustration as well as instructions in how to set up the stitches, near the back of the manual. Oh well.

So finally: not perfect, but fine for my first solo zip ( I still need to remove the blue basting stitches, but it is late). Sorry for the horrible phone photo but I'm too chuffed with myself to wait for better light.

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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sew? Me?!

So, let's just ignore that fact that this blog has been ever so slightly dormant for ages. It is Sunday night and I'm bored, so here is to a fresh start.

For at least 20 years now, I've successfully avoided sewing. Enforced home economics classes in school left me with a strong distaste for both knitting and sewing; I managed to overcome the knitting aversion in 2007 (and has been doing my part for the knitting economy ever since...), but sewing still evoked dreadful memories of frustration and of the way that machines always seemed to 'break' when I used them. Anyway, why sew when I could ask my mom to sew stuff for me?

Except, asking your mom to sew stuff for you becomes harder when you live on different continents. It also makes it harder to ask her for sewing help, so last year I signed up for a dressmaking course offered as part of the adult education offering in my local area. I had bought myself a sewing machine about 8 months before and made some cushion covers and lavender bags, but I had my eye on bigger and better things. Specifically. I have glorious plans of a wonderful wardrobe full of clothes I love and look fabulous in. Ambitious much?

For my first class project I chose Very Easy Vogue 8743. I had recently purchased a similar dress from Marks & Spencer, and loved the fit and the way it made me feel. I did not manage to finish it is my first set of lessons, but the second course started yesterday and the only bits that remain is finishing the neckline and then hemming it. I have run out of thread though so I need to go shopping before I can finish it off. I'll do another post on the project soon.

In my usual way (reference: knitting, spinning and weaving stashes) I seem to have already bought a few patterns and pieces of fabric for projects that I haven't yet started. Over the festive season the new Hollyburn skirt pattern from Sewaholic caught my eye. It is aimed at beginners (tick) and like other Sewaholic pattern is aimed at pear shaped bodies (TICK), and I like the full shape and the fact that it has pockets. Also, I have nothing like it in my wardrobe at the moment. Rather conveniently,  Rachel from My Messings is hosting a Hollyburn sewalong, which I've been reading avidly. I am using a slightly boring but practical grey gabardine fabric from John Lewis, and it is progressing well: I cut is out on Friday evening after work, and have got as far as attaching the waistband already. I've been struggling to a zip in the right colour though (all the greys have been too blue for some reason), so I need to go shopping again before I can go any further.

I am still knitting of course - I was up to five WIPs recently but I finished one project last week (no photos yet). Spinning has not happened in ages (for no good reason) and the loom has had the same bit of weaving on it for about 6 months now. The plan was to spend lots of time crafting over the festive season but somehow that did not happen (or not to the extent that it could have).

Maybe I should make some 2013 crafting resolutions:

  • Blog more (because I like to talk about my crafts and at least when it is in the blog I don't have to see the listener's/reader's eyes glaze over).
  • Ply the singles that have been sitting on bobbins for about 18 months now...
  • Spin something all the way from start to finish within a month.
  • Finish the current weaving project (intended to be a table runner).
  • Sew at least 3 garments I love.
  • Knit myself at least 2 cardigans I love.
Generally, spend less time on autopilot (on the couch watching TV and knitting something mindless) and more time creating (and finishing) things that add value to my life.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Day off...

Today I had a day with no commitments. So I did nothing much:
1) I made a DIY bobbin winder (and ordered a boat shuttle) for weaving. More info to follow.
2) I dehydrated some apples.
3) I warped my loom for a scarf.
4) I cooked 11 dinners (for the freezer).
5) I ordered some crocodile clips so that I can try and make a DIY fringe twister.
6) Blogged (even if it's only a short post).

Feeling pretty chuffed with myself, despite the fact that I did not:
1) Clean much.
2) Do my South African taxes.
3) Catch up with my emails.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


I decided not to attend our regular fortnightly knit group meeting tonight, because of a) an exceptionally social week (by my standards at least) and b) I felt like saying in and make some progress with the booties I'm knitting for my forthcoming nephew. As penance for being a hermit, I'll update the blog before starting on the DVDs.

There is another two months to go before my sister's due date, and apparently the baby already weighs more than 2kg, so I'm not exactly aiming for the newborn size. The pattern is Stay-on baby booties (scroll down for the English version), and I'm using the leftover Madelinetosh Sock from the Ishbel I finished over the weekend. I had 39g left over, and decided that the wool was too lovely to hibernate in the leftover stash pile. I've been using both straight and sock needles, depending on the requirements of the section. I'm using 2mm needles, and when I switched to knitting on another project for a while (Ella's cardigan on 4.5mm's) it felt like I was knitting with tree trunks. I was worried about running out of wool, so I made the leg 6cm instead of 8cm as stated in the pattern. I'm almost finished with the first bootee, and as usual my panic was baseless, I should have more than enough wool to finish comfortably.

The Ishbel I finished was supposed to be a gift for someone else, but once it was finished I decided that I deserved to keep something pretty for myself for once. I think the result is lovely, and I'm likely to use the pattern again for another of my Christmas knitting projects. The Ishbel takes my count of completed lace shawls to 5 in the last 10 months, with one more in progress and another one planned before Christmas. I'm currently knitting (in the vague 'it's in my knitting basket' way) Ruffle my feathers in autumn colours. Somehow I've become distracted by several other projects lately, and once I finish the booties and Ella's cardigan I really should get back to the Christmas shawls.

I also finished two hats - one for me and one for a friend's 5-year old son. A few months back, whilst in Dublin, I received an email from my friend A. She was in Leeds at the time, had noticed Baa Ram Ewe, and like a good friend was asking whether I needed anything. And like a good friend, in return I said I had plenty of wool, thanks, but to pick up supplies if she needed anything knitted for her or her family. She came back with some King Cole Merino Blend Aran (100% wool but machine washable) for a hat for her son, and I duly (eventually) knit it up into the Marsan Watchcap. A boring knit, but at least he should not be able to find too much fault with it. I did make the hat longer than the pattern stated, so that it could cover his ears (as opposed to the hat that I knitted him last winter, which did not quite...).

The other hat was a Meret, from my first attempt at hand dyeing wool. Which I still want to blog about. I loved the pattern, and found it a quick knit. I'm just not so sure of the look on me - either I need to get used to how I look wearing a beret, or I need to find some other person that can wear this hat successfully. It did whet my appetite for knitting more Woolly Wormhead hats, so watch this space. Although where I'm going to fit that in considering the current queue, I'm not so sure.

Submit to the knit!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Scotland 2010

I've been putting off this post for ages, because of the mixed feelings evoked by Knitcamp 2010.


  • Met many, many interesting people from around the world. Just wished I was more pro-active in getting contact details for some people.
  • Gained more confidence in my knitting. Will try and be less of a perfectionist in future and just experiment a bit more.
  • Enjoyed most of the classes I attended.
  • The Marketplace - managed to keep myself to a budget, but it was hard going. 
  • Beautiful location (and the uphill back to the accommodation might have helped a little in compensating for eating three substantial cooked meals a day).
  • Some lovely outings - my own or those organised by Knitcamp - such as visits to Edinburgh, Stirling Castle, the Wallace Monument, Loch Katrine and New Lanark Mill. 
  • Not as advertised - in the end I only did one class that stayed unchanged from when I booked it in terms of tutor or content. Also various other niggles during the week, such as the saga of the goody bags (Ravelry link). Never got mine.
  • Lack of communication from the organisers when things went wrong. 
The stash was enhanced (although it probably did not need more enhancement). I came back with:
  • 10 balls of New Lanark Mill Aran in Ecru - I won this in a prize draw during the trip to New Lanark Mill. Have been using it to try hand dyeing for the first time (will be reported on in a separate post).
  • 3 skeins of Old Maiden Aunt Alpaca Silk DK/Sportweight, colour Dreich. This had been on my shopping list for a while, it is destined to become a Goodale (Ravelry link).
  • 1 skein of Old Maiden Aunt Merino/Cashmere/Nylon 4-ply, colour Bluebells, destined to become a shawl for my sister. It is superwash, so hopefully it can survive her attitude towards laundry.
  • 1 skein of Artist's Palette Smoothie Sock, so that one day I can try and make nice socks.
  • Lovely buttons from Textile Garden. Will need to seek this shop out again for future button purchases.
  • 3 100g Bluefaced Leicester rovings from Freyalyn in beautiful blues/greys/greens. I'm having trouble photographing the colours successfully, but I'm really looking forward to spinning these - I plan to ply the three slightly different colourways together.
  • I also bought a necklace and some soap from Injabulo, for a small taste of South Africa.
Enough now, better get off to work so that I can afford more fibre!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Mindless fun

Equipment: Google Chrome browser (or equivalent)

Step 1: Find a pattern you like online (e.g. via Ravelry), that is only available in a language that is foreign to you.
Step 2: Get frustrated by the fact that you can't read the pattern.
Step 3: Notice the bar at the top of the browser offering to translate the page. Click on 'Translate'.

"... When the song is 33-34-35-36-36-37 cm in height, with head in both hands at the edges of the road for every 2 row 1x4-4-5-5-6-6 s and then start raglankavennukset. Ie both edges of the ..."

Still, I should be recreate the pattern.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Testing the mobile blogger

Guess where I'm off to in about 36 hours' time? Just checking to see whether I can realistically blog from the iphone.

Had a very satisfying day, with a visit to the dentist proving once again that I have a very active imagination. And for the first time in months I can smile with confidence! Also had a haircut in preparation for my trip.
Knitting projects and apparatus for next week sorted, just need to pack some optional extras like clothes and toiletries. Last time I checked the forecast it seemed like packing a sun hat or sandals would be wildly optimistic, but one can always hope!

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Location:Glamorgan Rd,Richmond,United Kingdom