My Photo

I knit, I sew, I run, I look after children and hamsters, I take truly terrible pictures, I cook, I complain.  Sometimes all at the same time.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Jake, he is a sea witch in disguise, do not sing into his shell.

You know and I know how much I love any opportunity to take really poor quality photos, so this Instagram photo game set up by the impossibly glamorous Rachel from House of Pinheiro was too good to pass by.


Here's a round up of the ten days.  Can you tell I've recently discovered the layout app and am having all sorts of fun with it?

Day 1 - Hello


Day 2 - Can't (Won't) Live Without


Day 3 - Colourful


Day 4 - Work/Play


Day 5 - Silhouette


Day 6 - Pattern that Changed My Life


Day 7 - Sew Up Close


Day 8 - Sewing Playlist


Day 9 - Stash


Day 10 - Would Swap Closets With


I've fallen a bit behind since we came back from holiday, but I'm catching up, and who doesn't want to see 21 more pictures of my stuff?

Monday, 24 August 2015

No Boyle, last time we did that you ended up telling everyone that you had a crush on the teapot from Beauty and the Beast

I've been busy sewing today, working on my Made Up pledge for Karen and the National Literacy Trust.  To be completely honest, the first bit wasn't a challenge at all - I've made this pattern three times and hacked it to make tee shirts for the girls, so I knew that it wouldn't really take very long at all.  

In fact, the two dresses took me from half ten this morning to about ten past one.  Super fast sewing, even with cutting them out last night.  I also made Hattie some pyjamas too, because I am one overachieving mother today.  Tomorrow, I'll need to make something similar for Lucy as I can hear her starting to feel a bit miffed that her sister has something she doesn't.


Stars for Hattie.  It's a bit big at the moment, but the size below fits perfectly, and I'd quite like it to last until next year.


Spots for Lucy.  Again, a bit big, particularly in length, but it should last her well.

`
The pyjamas were made out of the leftovers.  Funny what a difference the light makes to the colour in the photograph.  The two things are in the same fabric!  The pants are a bit of an odd fit because I had to cut them against the stretch, but they are fine for sleeping in.  I called them sleep shorts, so I suspect Hattie will try to wear them outside before too long.  

It's funny how different two similar fabrics can be.  The stars are a very structured jersey without much drape, quite thick and much better at holding a shape. The spots is a lot more drapey and thinner, and has made a lovely floppy, floaty cool dress for Lucy.  I bought the spotty fabric from a shop on the Goldhawk Road last year, when I met up with a load of sewing people, and gorgeous (then) blue haired Llauren Lladybird.  The shop is owned by one of my parents, as in someone from school, and I'm sure he had other colours.  I'll have to go back and check.  Oh the hardship.

 I'm sure I wrote a blog post about my last trip, but maybe not.  It was fun anyway, and I bought a small (large) amount of fabric, some of which I've used, most of which I haven't.  It feels good to take 4 metres out of stash.  I photographed a portion of it today.  It is getting a bit out of hand.


My sewing resolution is to turn at least half into garments before August 2016.  Should be doable. 

Sunday, 23 August 2015

The key to a healthy urethra? Radishes.

It's Sunday night, I'm full of beans and salad and kofte and tsatziki, and now I'm feeling slightly queasy; what better time than to update the Year of Projects list.

I've finished something - the Vianne.  I wore it out that night, didn't manage to take any pictures mostly because I forgot, but also because I'm not entirely sure about it.

Here's a picture, and I blogged about it here.



I restarted the Petrie top in the yellow wool cotton from Liberty, it did look a bit too like a minion, so I remade the hem facing in orange instead, so now it looks like a Starburst instead, which I think is better and I can call it a St Clements top now.

I'm halfway through the Elwood mittens for Lucy, as in I've made one and have done half of the ribbing for the second one.  It's a bit dull making the second one.

The Weather Blanket is still the same as it was last week; but it's so close to being done it no longer worries me.  As the weather gets worse, I'll want three stone of wool on my lap, so it'll be finished before my birthday.  Famous last words.

The rest is still the same.

Miette cardigan in Lemon
Cream and Beige Coco style boatneck striped top
Rainbow Raglan to replace the one I lost
Sun-Ray Ribbing Vintage Jumper
This One's for Parties Vintage Jumper
Finish the Wisteria so that when it gets cold, I will be warm
Finish the Peacock Mittens, ditto

Reknit Simon's Cobblestone jumper
A pair of massive MAN SOCKS

Mini Hetty cardigan with sleeves for Lucy
Bright Rainbow Blanket for Lucy

Burton Bear cowl for Hattie
Mini Hetty cardigan with sleeves also for Hattie
Minion blanket for Hattie

Owl Blanket for Robin's Christmas present

100 *(&*&*&^*^%&&^%ing Hexipuffs

Friday, 21 August 2015

Sewing as a force for good

I do love it when the things I like doing can be used for good things.  I've run races for Cancer Research and I was going to do the Royal Parks Half Marathon, but I'm not going to be able to do that this year - a combination of having hurt my back slightly and not being in the right frame of mind.  Who knew that disliking running would make it so much harder to keep going?

Back to the nice things.  Karen from Did You Make That? has set up a new fund-raising thing, called the Made Up Initiative where you give money to the National Literacy Trust via Just Giving, and then pledge to sew something by the 10th of September.  I'm not going to go on about how important reading is to me; I've been a keen reader since I was 5, I'm a primary school teacher and a SENCO, I've got two daughters who regularly fall asleep in their books and who have been members of the library since they were 3 weeks old, and I work hard to ensure that all the children I come into contact with have frequent access to high quality literature, so it's a cause close to my heart.

I may have bitten off more than I can chew though; I've pledge to make two Skater Dresses, one of each of the girls, and a Lady Skater Dress for me.  I've got to print out the grown up pattern, which might be a bit of a problem as our printer is a bit iffy at the best of times.  I'm sure it will all be fine, I've made three of the children's dresses before and they took about an afternoon, and I've got three mornings free next week while the girls are at tennis, so I'll keep you posted.  Bet you can't wait.

As far as the running goes, I'm going to restart the Couch to 5K programme in a few weeks, and start doing pilates again to strengthen my back and core muscles a bit.  I used to enjoy running, and I do quite like exercise, but I've really not been into into it since Easter, and I've been a very reluctant runner since then.  Hurting my ankle put me in a terrible frame of mind about it, and it's a real relief to have the pressure taken off by deciding not to do the Half.  Next year.
  

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Julia vs Vianne

A blogger I like, Amanda from Bimble and Pimble, always starts her posts Amanda vs whichever pattern she's been wrestling with this week.  While my relationship with sewing isn't quite on that combative level, my knitting has been properly rubbish recently.  I think it's annoyed that I'm spending more time sewing and writing, and is in a sulk.

Vianne and I have a complicated relationship.  I started it back in June, and made great progress, until I really looked at the lace and realised that my decreases sloped in different ways and it was just a big hot mess.  Even I can't live with that level of ridiculousness, so I ripped it back, including the bit that was OK, which was a mistake, but I was pretty cross.  I'd already altered the pattern to make it with a plain back, because the lace back didn't look right to me.  It looks nice on other models, but it wouldn't work.  Also, I like to hide the backs of my dresses, because invisible zip nightmare.

So then it waited in my knitting bag while I did other things - mostly the Weather blanket and sewing, and then I took it to Greece.  I don't know if you've ever knitted in 40+ degree heat? It's not a good idea.  Anyway, I got the body finished, and I got one of the sleeves finished, and I got the other sleeve started, and I ran out of wool in the middle of nowhere.  So it went back into the knitting bag until we got home, and then yesterday I finished the cast off on the button band, and today after finishing my essay, I sewed ribbon round the button band and made buttonholes and sewed on buttons, and now it is done.


It looks a bit weird on the hanger, but it fits OK.  Bit big around the shoulders and back, and the sleeves need to get narrower much, much quicker.  I'll try to take modelled picture later. 


Button band looks OK, as does the lace.  I won't tell you how long it took me to make those buttonholes.  Ages.  


Grey and white spotty ribbon to give it a bit of extra oomph.  I like using a contrasting colour. 


I also made Hattie some stripy pants.  

And put a freaking bird on Lucy's.  

So there you go.  It was a tight match, but I won in the end.  Ain't no knitting going to stop me.  Or something.  And only a month late, the outfit along outfit is finished.  I'm going to wear them both tonight and see if Simon can take a photograph that doesn't make me look like an idiot. 

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

I'll distract the file clerk. Apparently he's really into bird-watching, so talking to a woman should blow his mind. And talking to this woman? It could kill him.



Long time, no blog.  Something to do with the summer holidays, going on holiday (Greece, and lovely, thanks for asking) (no, there was tonnes of money, and the cashpoints worked) (no, no riots in Stoupa, and Athens was a hot shithole, but I suspect it always was), the NASENCO course essay being due in September (nearly 2500 words, thanks for asking) and general STUFF and THINGS happening.  The children are away, and I am missing them a great deal, but also really appreciative of the time without them, particularly on Sunday morning after drinking my body weight in gin the night before.  I passed out in my clothes.  It was not good.

I'm supposed to be going for a run now, but my phone is nearly out of battery and I need to charge it before I go out otherwise I will get in a real snit about not having music, so what better thing to do than update you on all the fascinating KNITTING and SEWING TOGETHER CROCHETED SQUARES that I've been doing.

The list for this Year of Projects is substantially the same as it was when created.  Quelle surprise, so I'm only going to talk about what I have done, rather than what I will be doing.  If you are massively into lists, you can see the whole thing in all its glory here.

Anyway.

Petrie top in Yellow Wool Cotton from Liberty - I've started this.  I used some of the blue wool from my Vianne as a hem facing, and with the yellow of the main body of the top, it looks like a minion.


I might rip it back.  I have to have a long think about it.

Finish the Vianne in time for the end of the Outfit Along - well, I've got the buttonband to do on this one.  I need to use slightly smaller needles for the band, so it's got that sewn on look I like.  I have made mistake after mistake with this one, honestly.  I buggered up the lace, lost my DPNs, ran out of wool half way down the first sleeve; you never stop making mistakes, you just make them faster and more irreparably.

Elwood mittens for Lucy - I've made one.  Look!


Cute, isn't it?  Lucy loves it, which is the main thing.  I've trimmed the ends now, and started the ribbing on the second one.  That's the problem with knitting mittens and socks, the idea of making the same thing twice when there's already a perfectly wearable garment in existence.

Finish the &%^%^&^%&^ing Weather Blanket - there are 19 squares left to go on the Weather Blanket people.  19.  Less than a row.  And there are 21 to sew together, as I had a big push and did a lot of hungover sewing the other day.  Hurrah.

More soon.  And some sewing.  I will finish this essay in time to sew something before the girls come back.  Right.  Running time.  Yay.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Another time I went to a really boring movie with a guy and while I was asleep he tried to pull out one of my teeth. I literally woke up with his hand in my mouth. We went out a couple times after that but then he got weird.


I love sunflowers.  They're one of my favourite flowers, after those big blowsy roses that look like drunk peonies; I had them in my bouquet when we got married.  They undercut the formality of our wedding with their scruffy sexiness.  As did the bride, but that's another story.

Anyway, so it was only a matter of time before I bought some sunflower fabric to make a dress.  Inspired, as ALWAYS, by this dress made by the indomitable Roisin, I got some fabric from ebay some time last year.  Seriously, stalk her handmade wardrobe, it is one of the greatest things ever.  The woman is a machine.



It sat in the stash for a while, intending to become an Anna dress.  



However, I decided to be a bit of a glutton for punishment, and had yet another go at the the sodding Cambie dress, which was the second dress pattern I made, and a massive, massive pain in the bum.  I'm the wrong shape for it.  My boobs are too big, my waist isn't narrow enough and neither are my hips.  I don't have saddlebags, so the damn thing sticks out in the wrong place and I never wear the two dresses I made from that pattern.  The zip being broken on one doesn't help, and the other is just NOT GOOD.

But, this is dressmaking not astrophysics, and I won't let a bit of cloth and some paper beat me.  I made a toile with my cotton lining fabric, made a couple of bodice changes, mostly taking it in here and there so I didn't have to do a full bust adjustment, and went for it.  Well, it was an effing disaster again, so after some mild (bad) swearing and stamping and throwing the dress on the ground and stamping on it, I ripped out the sodding lining and tried again.  This time, it worked.  


I don't like pockets, so I made the skirt out of the lining pattern, and it sort of bulges out halfway down my thighs.  But that's just visible to me, not to anyone else.


A close up of the bodice.  I put a couple of darts in by the zip, and spent a while sorting out the shoulder strap things.  I really like it now, and I might just have another go at the Cambie another time.  Maybe.  It's a lot better without the lining; when we get back from holiday, I'll rip the lining out of the Dolly dress and replace the zip.  I should wear it, I did love it in the beginning.

It also has a bang on trend high/low hem, which was INTENDED ACTUALLY. 

My clothes photos are getting a bit better too. 






Tuesday, 7 July 2015

I'm wearing a new, um, bra and it closes in the front and it popped-open and it threw me off.

Did you know that hippos can run at a top speed of 30 km/h, and can swim at about 15 km/h, so you really need to make up the time on the bikes if you want to beat them at the triathlon.

I'm running again, if you hadn't realised.  I ran on Sunday, yesterday and today, building up my distance to a mighty 5 km.  I've been avoiding running, then berating myself for not doing it, then getting depressed, then going out and getting furious within 30 seconds, and repeating a pretty negative cycle.  I've decided to go out everyday for a fortnight, alternating my "half marathon training plan" with running circuits of the track while the kids play in the park.  Apparently 3 circuits is a kilometre; I did it yesterday but with just my UP band to track it and it wasn't very good at it.  I might need to read the instructions, because you can get it to time an activity pretty accurately according to the blurb. 

It's all very positive at the moment though, with 4.9 kilometres on Sunday, 1 and a bit yesterday, and 4.85 kilometres today.  I don't run the whole way, because my ankle starts to really hurt after about 2k, and walking helps ease that.  But I am doing it.  Even though I only sporadically enjoy it, particularly going down hills.  

I don't intend to write too much about my "fitness journey" because it bores ME to tears, let alone both my remaining readers, but I will mention it now and again.  After all, it will have an impact on my sewing - less fabric used, more likely to take pictures of myself as I become happier with my body and the way I look, generally happier with everything.   I'm certainly not going to write a daily fitness journal, although I might show you a few post exercise selfies.


Cheers.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Oh, one time I rode in a sidecar on a guy's motorcycle, and the sidecar detached and went down a flight of stairs

The Outfit Along 2015 is in full swing, hosted by the gorgeous Llauren Lladybird and the equally gorgeous Andi Satterlund and I've been umming and aahhing over my dress and my knitting.  I originally thought I wanted to make a mustard coloured Vianne cardigan with a 1970s duvet print Lilou dress, but I decided against.  Weirdly.


I think I'll still make it up, but in the Autumn.  It's not that summery at all.  I don't wear those colours ever, so it's a bit of a brave shot in the dark.  

I ended up choosing a different colour yarn but the same cardigan pattern and a totally different dress pattern.  This is a Francoise, still by Tilly and the Buttons, but a pattern I've made twice before, once badly in purple, once very happily in polka dots.  I used a special fabric, an African wax cotton print that I bought on the Goldhawk Road when Lauren came to visit London, so it's nice to use it for a pattern that has something to do with her.  


It's a lovely print; I was a bit wary of using an African wax cotton, given that my ancestors have not always chosen their best behaviour when dealing with other Africans, and cultural appropriation and all that, but decided not to be so silly in the end, and to celebrate the beauty of the fabric and the skill of the women who make it.  



Nice isn't it?  Bias binding on the neckline and the sleeves, because Julia doesn't do facings. 


This is me with a why the f are you mucking about with my camera face on.  You can't tell from the picture, but the bodice is a bit too big, everywhere but over my full bust.  There are 5 inches between my full bust and my high bust (FFS), so I should really do an FBA and use a smaller size.  Or rip the binding at the neckline out and then put a couple of darts in the back.  Or leave it as the only person bothered by it is me when I look in a mirror and I look like I might fall out of my dress.  

I have worn the dress pretty much solidly since I made it on Friday night;  I know how to live it up.  It's in the wash now so I can wear it again on Wednesday.  It's gorgeously cool and light to wear, I feel like I'm not wearing anything at all, while being perfectly, modestly dressed.  I'm going to buy a job lot of wax print and make a bunch of shift dress, and maybe make an Anna dress with the rest of the fabric.  Should be perfect for our Greek adventure.  

Eagle eyed readers may have spotted the bare bum of my older daughter.  She has a knack for photobombing. 

Sunday, 5 July 2015

There's something about flying a kite at night that seems so unwholesome

Those of you who are interested in my knitting will be thrilled to hear that the last Year of Projects is over, and that we are now into the next one.  Even though it's uncharacteristically hot here (warm weather in summer, who knew?), I'm thinking about knitting a lot, and I've got my to do list ready.  Brace yourselves.

Me:
Petrie top in Yellow Wool Cotton from Liberty
Miette cardigan in Lemon
Cream and Beige Coco style boatneck striped top
Rainbow Raglan to replace the one I lost
Sun-Ray Ribbing Vintage Jumper
This One's for Parties Vintage Jumper
Finish the Vianne in time for the end of the Outfit Along.
Finish the Wisteria so that when it gets cold, I will be warm
Finish the Peacock Mittens, ditto

Simon:
Reknit his Cobblestone jumper
A pair of massive MAN SOCKS

Lucy:
Elwood mittens
Mini Hetty cardigan with sleeves

Hattie:
Burton Bear cowl
Mini Hetty cardigan with sleeves

Blankets:
Owl Blanket for Robin's Christmas present
Bright Rainbow Blanket for Lucy
Minion blanket for Hattie
Finish the &%^%^&^%&^ing Weather Blanket
100 *(&*&*&^*^%&&^%ing Hexipuffs

It looks doable now.  Ask me again in a fortnight.