Monday, 29 June 2009

I are sweating!

I'm going to start by stating the only thing that has been on my mind for the last few day. By all that is holy it is HOT! Which would be fine if it wasn't so flippin' humid. Needless to say, therefore, that not much knitting has been occurring. Before it became so warm I cast on for Kai-Mei in some very fetching green Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn and I have about an inch and a half to go before starting the heel. So far they have been pretty brainless and dull in 3x3 rib but the foot part looks quite complicated so it should balance out. So with knitting not so much an option at the moment I have been concentrating on my sewing. My Marie skirt is certainly taking shape, although as usual I failed to look ahead and I am now anxiously awaiting the arrival of an invisible zipper foot so that I can get on. Once the zip is in I just need to add the facings for the waistband and bottom edge. Currently I can't make head nor tail of the instructions after the bit where the zip goes in, but I'm hoping all will become clear while I'm doing it. If not it'll be back to the old standby, making it up as I go along. Speaking of which I have also been busy making myself a bee costume, the idea for which was conceived in a very boring meeting last week. I must add that this was not a random urge, I am going to this festival in Canterbury in a couple of weeks and my friends and I like to dress up for the occasion. See evidence from last year.

Anyway, so instead of buying the bumblebee fur fabric I saw online the other day I decided that it would be much cooler to buy a stack of yellow and black t-shirts, cut them into strips and go from there. This was a little time consuming but I'm glad I did it. It looks pretty cool and should keep me much cooler (arf!) than the furry stuff. I made sure that the strip at the top of the dress came from the bottom of a t-shirt so that I could use the hem as a ready made casing for elastic. After threading that through and securing it I sewed the top two strips together and then hemmed the rest of the way down the dress to form a triangle.

This is where I have got to so far, I have an idea what is going to happen next, but I'm not 100% sure. Check back tomorrow to see where it ends up.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

T-shirt - Raawwwww!

Since I bought a book about reconstructing T-shirts a little while back I have been hacking and slashing like a good un, but a couple of weeks ago I bought a T-shirt with a massive great picture which I couldn't bear to chop into but couldn't find a suitable project that would preserve it in it's entirely. So I decided to make it up myself. I really like the finished project so here is a quick how to in case anyone is interested.

Ok so the picture is not the best, but you kind of get the idea, essentially go are getting a kind of tunic top, with big old armholes, tied together with string! If you think this is a good look then grab a t-shirt, this one is a small men's one with a giant robot on it. Coooool! Chop off the neckband. If you think the T-shirt is way longer than you'd like then trim off the bottom too. I didn't because I like the long length of this. Make a mark about 15cm from the bottom on either side then slice - sorta curvy like - from just inside the sleeve seam down to your mark.

Try the result on. This is where you can fiddle about and make it perfect. When I tried mine on I decided to make the neckline a little wider and also trimmed the back a little to make it a bit 'racer back'. Once you are happy you have 2 choices either wear it as it is (with a vest top underneath if you are going anywhere respectable) or make ties for the sides. I decided mine looked a bit tabardy to start with so I popped it on and pinched the sides together to see where the ties would be most flattering. I then poked a pair of scissors through both layers and threaded through a strip off of one of the sleeves I removed earlier. Repeat to match on the other side. Done. Wear to pub. Get loads of compliments (well that's what happened to me anyway)!

Wednesday, 10 June 2009


My new favourite thing:

Love. It. I don't know why I have put off getting one for so long and I know Chris can't understand why he has had to sit with his arms out for hours on end when I could have shelled out a few quid for one of these! Anyway, I've got it now, under £20 from here. Oops, nearly forgot, The yarn being artfully wound in my kitchen is Manos Del Uruguay Wool Clasica. Hopefully it will very soon be a hat. I also wound a skein of Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn in a very fetching shade of green in the blink of a eye. It's quite sad how much that pleased me!

Tuesday, 9 June 2009


As you can see my Monkeys are finally done. They took a bit longer than expected cos I kind of slacked off and did other things in between, but I've got there and I love them. I think they may be my favourite socks, at least for this week. The pattern was really great to knit, much easier than it looks and I'm really pleased with my choice of yarn too (Regia Colour in Candy). I like how the yarn is plain enough to really show a pattern but has the little colourful blobs just to make them a bit more interesting. Love, love love!

To continue on a theme, Cookie A's book, Sock Innovation, plopped through my letter box the other day and I can see myself trying out some of those patterns very soon. Kai-Mei is a definite favourite and Rick (Rav links) is also a must have for me. Some of the patterns have really crazy looking charts and I think I will need to build up to those but overall it is a book definitely worth picking up if you are a sock knitter.

Leading nicely on from that little review, I also received my first copy of Burda World of Fashion the other day. After having a good look through their archives I decided I would try it and ordered a six month subscription. Although some of the photos leave you guessing a bit there are a fair few things in there I may try. This, this and this are particular faves and I even have some fabric I could use. My main challenge is going to be actually getting on and making these things before the next issue arrives and I fall in love with a load of stuff in that one. One thing I really like about the magazine is that it is just loads of pages with pictures of the projects on, the patterns and instructions in the middle and that's it. There's no fluff. Really it is just like a clothing catalogue, except you get to make the things you like yourself and you know it's going to fit. I bought and British sewing mag recently (for a similar price I might add) and it had a few patterns for small thing a couple of larger projects that I didn't really like and then page after page of waffle and interviews and things to buy that were ready made. I hate to say it but really it doesn't surprise me that most people think of sewing and knitting etc as crafty nonsense for scatty older ladies. That's as deep as that observation goes for the moment, it was just something that struck me!

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Sewing Machine Meme

Saw this sewing machine meme on the Sew Mama Sew blog (check out blogs I read) and thought I'd fill it in. I spent absolutely ages researching before I bought my machine so I think it is a really great idea that they are collecting people's responses to create a really useful resource. Right, let's crack on!

What brand and model do you have?

Janome 4618

How long have you had it?

About 3 months

How much does that machine cost (approximately)?


What types of things do you sew (i.e. quilting, clothing, handbags, home dec projects, etc.)?

I bought it to make clothing but I also make bags and cushions etc. Anything I can think of - I'm not a quilter though.

How much do you sew? How much wear and tear does the machine get?

I try to sew every week, so between half and hour and 3 hours a week maybe.

Do you like/love/hate your machine? Are you ambivalent? Passionate? Does she have a name?

I like my machine a lot. When I decided to try out sewing I bought a cheapo machine because I didn't want to spend money on something I didn't use. That machine only lasted a few months and was not a pleasure to use when it was working. This machine was worth the money to me because everything just seems easier and I'm much less frustrated.

What features does your machine have that work well for you?

I like the top loading bobbin - I'm very lazy and the temptation to sew everything with the same thread is overwhelming if it takes ages to reload. I love the overcasting stitches and the way all the feet and needles have their own cubby holes in the top of the machine. Being able to change the speed to low on the foot pedal is useful too.

Is there anything that drives you nuts about your machine?

Not really but I haven't had it very long.

Do you have a great story to share about your machine (i.e., Found it under the Christmas tree? Dropped it on the kitchen floor? Sewed your fingernail to your zipper?, Got it from your Great Grandma?, etc.!)? We want to hear it!

Again not really, but I can see myself sticking with it for a long time so who knows!

Would you recommend the machine to others? Why?

Absolutely. For a sort of mid range machine it was not too spendy and I've had no probs at all. I did do alot of research before I purchased it because I didn't want to buy another hunk of junk but at the same time I didn't want to spend more than necessary. It has all the features I wanted without being bogged down by stuff I'll never use. It is well constructed and charges through loads of layers without breaking a sweat.

What factors do you think are important to consider when looking for a new machine?

Think about what you realistically will use it for, taking into consideration any skills you want to learn in the near future. Considering that make a list of things which are essential and desirable for you and look for machines that have those.

Do you have a dream machine?

One with a little hot plate to keep my cup of tea warm!

One jigsaw done

Well it happened a lot more quickly than I had anticipated, but I have an FO for you.

Yes it's another Estelle. This one has a few little differences from the first but is essentially very similar. The main difference is that it is a much neater job than the first. I used an overcasting stitch to join the lining and outer pieces which killed two birds with one stone and adds a little less bulk and I also added a strip of interfacing around the opening of the bag because I find that the first one I made is a little floppy and sometime the top is pulled down a little and the lining pokes out. I'm pretty happy with it, I just need to sew a popper on and then it can go on the present pile because much I like it I did make it for someone else. Plus I made it with leftover fabric from my cushions so I can't keep it. I could just see me coming in, throwing it down on the sofa and someone sitting on it!

Next up I need to piece together the other 2 projects which are currently just small piles of bits. First is a wallet made using this tutorial. I did make a start on the zipped pocket but I made a fairly crappy job of it. Really I need to start that bit afresh but as usual I am procrastinating and have hidden that bit under all the other pieces so I can pretend that it really isn't that bad. I may have to do all of the other bits that I can and then maybe I will have built up some momentum and will get it done. After that there is my version of this skirt. The fabric I am using is quite light so I'm hoping that it will end up being a little less structured than the pattern intends. I'm fairly sure that if I wear a skirt that stands too far out from my body I will just look slightly insane rather than cool and fashionable as intended. I'm going to be really careful when I make this because if all goes well I'm going to make myself a dress. Fingers crossed.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Oops, it’s been a while!

I haven't posted for ages, mainly due to being a bit lazy, nut also I have been quite busy. I can't really remember everything I have been up to ( maybe I should write these things down. Oh yeah, that's what this blog is meant for!) but here are the highlights.

1. Knitting. My Monkeys are nearly done, just a couple more repeats on the foot and then the toe to do. They should have been done by now, but I just had to cast on for the spiral heelless socks from Easy Knitted Socks and I had to complete the first one of those before I could bring myself to work on anything else. I have wanted a pair of them since I made a pair for a friend last year, but after I purchase the yarn I found that I had no idea where the book with the pattern in was which kind of delayed things a little. Chris found the book last week, in a wardrobe heaven knows why, so I was finally able to get on with them. I really like this pattern, it is kind of mindless but you do have to pay a little bit of attention to where you have got to. Most of all I like how you end up with a lovely snugly pair of socks which are just perfect for lounging around in indoors.

2. Sewing. I haven't done much sewing wise. I had one mad evening where I cut out all of the bits for 3 different projects. I am slowly getting some of these bits sewn together but I seem to hit a snag every time I get started, so essentially all I have done is create a load of jigsaw pieces which I am feeling very guilty about not fitting together. I have also just taken delivery of a whole load more fabric and am having to fight the urge to cut pieces out of all that until I have completed at least one of the current projects.

3. Chris. Chris won his case for unfair dismissal against his former employers last week, which was a good end to a long, laborious and stressful process. I know he is a little disappointed that he received the minimum in compensation but to my mind being told that you were right is always nice. Especially as the company's representative thought that he could stand up in a tribunal and say that the reason they hadn't followed proper redundancy procedure, even after we wrote to them and told them where they went wrong, was because they didn't like Chris very much. Way to go genius! Hilarious.

4. Race for Life. I completed the Race for Life yesterday and even though my training dropped off a bit in the last couple of weeks because I hurt my back I'm pleased to say it was much better that last year. My time wasn't much quicker but I ran way further without stopping and could probably have ran the whole way if it hadn't been quite so tropical yesterday. In the end I had to walk for a few minutes after I hit the 2 mile mark because I could feel myself overheating royally and didn't want to do myself a mischief. My mum made it round too and we have made probably £200 or so for Cancer Research which is what it is all about.

Well that is about it for now. Hopefully I will have some FO's very shortly to share. Until then.