Friday, August 15, 2014

To line, or not to line

There I was, sewing a summer dress, back in the summer this was, and I said to my sister, "I can't decide whether to line it or not."
"Line it." She said, "because then it's a three season garment, rather than a one season garment."
Well it turns out that she was right, because I lined that dress and I wore it in summer, autumn, and now, with tights and boots and a cardy over top, in winter as well. Three seasons, just like that. I might even wear it in spring, which is just around the corner now, making it a four-season jackpot.
This dress is, hmmm, now what pattern was it now, oh yes, New Look 6080. I've also made the top from this pattern, which was very nice. I particularly like the wee line of pintucks down the front.
After I'd finished making the dress it was a little unshapely, an issue that I addressed thusly:
First, I put this wee elasticated gather across the back by stretching elastic across then using a very wide zigzag to hold it in place.
Then I made a belt, which just ties in a simple knot. That pulls it in a little more, and also covers the gathering at the back. There, that's much better.
And here is some proof that spring is just around the corner now, just in case you need it. Daffodils....a little droopy as I couldn't find my camera a few days ago, but they have been cheering me up all week.
And so has this modest arrangement of junk-shop finds on my china cabinet. So often my bits and bobs end up in messy piles on my office desk. I really must take more care to arrange them aesthetically, because it is nice to take the time to appreciate them.
The world and everything in it. Not too much to ask, is it?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Here comes the rain (-y print top).

Hello friends,
The air is thick with autumn-ness here, the sun is sitting lower in the sky and its light is yellow and faded, the leaves are turning from yellow to red to brown, and the smell of quinces is all through the house. I made some quince jelly this year, rather than quince paste, because I thought there was a better chance of getting around to using it. It looks beautiful...
But oh my stars! Somehow I missed the setting point and it is rather hard and rubbery. I'm glad you can't tell that from a photo. I will pretend it's supposed to be like that, cutting it into hard little pieces as required and calling it "quince jelly jubes". I really do fancy myself as a good jam maker and this is somewhat of a humbling experience. Oh well, I'll pick myself up by the bootstraps and make some more when I get some more quinces.

In sewing news, I am pleased to report that I have now successfully used a facing, rather than bias strips, to complete a neckline. It works surprisingly well when you follow all of the instructions (I often skip interfacing, but this time I didn't). I did all the layering and understitching malarkey and well I never, it really does sit flat. I also handstitched the facings onto back of the shoulder seams and that helps a lot with making it sit flat too. I found this rainy fabric with its autumn colours just irresistible, especially at $6 per metre.

Here's one of my favourite parts, the label that I unpicked from an old tie years ago and have kept all this time, stitched on the back so that my top looks like a bought one. Entirely for my own amusement as no one else will see it, but if one can't amuse oneself then that is a very sad existence indeed.
(I just had one of those "I'm becoming my father" moments. He used to save EVERYTHING and once in a blue moon when he used a hinge or a rusty nail or whatever he'd say "I'm so glad I kept that"). I really do miss him sometimes.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Hunting: A country scene

The latest from the "Are you sure that's a good idea?" files of sewing is my new top, featuring two jaunty horseriders with dogs and country scenery, portrayed in a mosaic pattern. How could one resist such a crazy, funny print? Many might say "Easily", but not I, readers. This "refashion" is made from a scarf, the kind that junk shops have in the hundreds. I have always thought that scarves in the charity shops have the *best* prints on them, and have secretly harboured an ambition to turn them into clothing for some time now.
There are some good reasons to NOT sew with these scarves, not least of all that most of them are 100% polyester, so slippery and squeaky to sew and sweaty to wear. Still, the price of fashion is comfort and all that....I could not be dissuaded. I purchased an extra large scarf from the junk shop for $3, and made it up using New Look 6162.
Check out the print close up: 

Dogs, horses, men, trees, sky, and clouds. Irresistible, no? Or are you screaming "NO!" at your computer screen?

I made the pattern mostly according to the instructions, except I put bias binding, made from the offcuts of the scarf, around the neck and armholes. Here's a closeup of the binding, below. I don't know about you but neckhole facings always seem to pop out or sit funny. Perhaps I am sewing them wrong. Dish out advice, if you have some.
Actually I'm loving wearing this top, it cracks me up. It's not particularly sweaty to wear, and I love the brightness of the print on these autumnal days. It's as cheery as a hot cocoa, a toasted sandwich, and orange leaves blowing down from the trees. Happy autumn everyone.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

George, and Lilac Spuds

This monkey is called George.
I made his dapper little suit last weekend, because the sewing machine was out when he came to stay, and I thought it would only take 30 minutes. It all started off so well, the pants were a snip and the jacket was going together nicely. I had the outer and lining sewn and was just putting them together when I realized that I had cut an extra sleeve instead of a back piece. Now the sensible thing to do would be to recut a back piece and resew the lining. But oh no. I thought "I'll just cut another panel and slot it in." Well, a piece that doesn't fit still doesn't fit if you add in extra bits. You can imagine how frought with difficulties that was. Honestly, the language! It would have made a sailor blush. Anyway all's well that ends well. The suit jacket turned out to be coolio. Lesson: Just go back a step and fix the mistake. Remind me of this next time, please.
Unrelated, but interesting if you like potatoes or sibling rivalry. When I was down in Dunedin recently, my Mum pointed to my sister's potato plants and said "Look at those! They're better than yours!", closely followed by "Well don't give me THAT look, they're better than mine, too". Well the photo below is for you, Mum and Miriam, look how crazy beautiful and perfect my purple heart potatoes turned out: 

And even better when covered in light cream, parmesan, garlic, salt, and pepper and then baked for 1 hour at 200 degrees C, which is what I did immediately after taking this photo. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Hello and welcome

Hello friends, good gracious, another year has started already. You know, I checked my stat counter the other day, and was surprised to see how many hits there were. It really is so good of you to pop into visit this blog even though my posts are rather sporadic these days. I had thought of deleting the blog altogether, but somehow it has a small life of its own and I would be too sad to lose it, and all of your comments, if I shut it down. So thanks for being such good visitors.
So now for a somewhat tardy Christmas recap...I made quite a few presents this year, one of my favourites being this bag from the wonderful book Sweet and Simple, by Melissa Wastney, which has lots of projects for adults as well as for kids. True to the title of the book it was simple to make, all the bits fitted together just as they should, and the construction was the easiest of any bags I've made in the last year or two. I made it in corduroy, with a light green striped business-shirt-like cotton lining. The ironic label use (my label is "Miss Smith") was particularly satisfying, as I made this bag for another person called "Miss Smith". True story!
I also made some pillowcases from the same cotton- these were for a 22-year-old nephew of mine. A difficult age bracket to buy for as I have no idea what young men are into in this day and age. When I was 22 all the lads I knew liked playing Doom on large computers and drinking beer. Things may or may not have changed since 1995, but surely all lads like a nice matching pair of pillowcases. Well at least I didn't sew him some underpants. That would have been much worse. And embarrassing.
Here's one of the loveliest presents I got, a big bunch of hydrangeas. Not a single stem, as that would be a Lone (hyd) Ranger. Heh heh heh.
And now that Christmas and New Year are over, I am head-long into preserving season again. So far, I've done beetroot, plums, plum jam, and tomatoes. When I was done bottling the plums I had some juice leftover and it would have been terrible to tip it out, so I added some gelatine and made it into a jelly. That reminds me, I once went to the launch of a cookbook about desserts, and the author said "Never serve jelly at a party after 10 pm. The guests will throw it around." I hadn't forgotten that piece of advice so I served the jelly as an afternoon tea treat. It was received warmly, and wobbily, by all of the children present.
Now that I think about it though, just what kind of a party is it when jelly IS served after 10 pm??? The whole idea gets weirder and weirder the more I think about it. Well, there's something to ponder on for 2014. Don't say you never get inspiration for deep reflection reading this blog.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Monster Babbies

Hello friends,
How's things? It's all busy-busy-busy round here. In fact, here is a list of the things I "haven't had time" to do in the last month or so: finish painting the front door, tidy away the two piles of papers either side of my computer, read that novel beside my bed, ring that tradesman to do that job that needs doing, decide what shoes I'm going to wear to M's wedding, etc.
But guess what I DID find time to do: Make monster babies. Yes that's right, monster babies.
Monster babies are tiny and cute. However, they also do monstrous poos and weese and so they have to wear tiny monster nappies.
I wish these babies had come from my own imagination, but no, I saw them in a book, Microcrafts. I immediately recognized them as a great handmade Christmas gift for two quirky children I know. While my children pretend to be grown ups wanting ipods and motorized lego and all manner and means of expensive accessories, I knew they'd just flip for a monster baby with monster nappies, maybe also with a little monster bed, a monster pillow, and a wee monster blanket (accessories not yet made, we'll see if I "have time"). 
I threw these three together while I watched the News one night to gauge the general level of interest. As soon as I was finished the kids started with the bagsies and requesting that more be made, according to the pictures they were just off to draw. Aha! They do still like crazy homemade stuff after all. I'll make weird craft aficionados of them yet! What more could a mother want for her children?

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Saturday, September 14, 2013

Thoughts on the knitting continuum

In my mind, there is a knitting continuum. At one end, there are essential and very practical things like warm woollen jerseys and hats, socks, mittens, and scarves: things that would keep you alive in a snowstorm along with a home-made cheese and pickle sandwich and a thermos of tea. At the other end are fun, frivolous things like, knitted sharks, goldfish, wombles, sandwiches, and so forth: things that would entertain you on a sunny day when times are good and life is simple. In the middle are the items that are somewhat practical but that also have a fun a frivolous edge to them. This category includes tea cosies and "tv slippers".
 I definite have leanings towards the frivolous end of the knitting spectrum. I would rather knit a sandwich than a jersey, and I would rather buy socks than knit them. However, when my daughter asked me to knit her a pair of tv slippers there was just enough silliness in them for me to say "Yes, of course". Also, I owed her a knitting project after just having knitted something for her brother. (I am from a family of eight children, and hence, I am very aware that I must be careful to be "fair").
Are "tv" slippers a New Zealand phenomenon? I have no idea but it wouldn't surprise me if they were. There are patterns for them in almost every junk shop I frequent, and several on Ravelry of course. This was the pattern I thought I'd follow, since it looked easy and had lots of sizes (click to enlarge, if required):
 In the end I followed a pattern on Ravelry, because it required two strands to be knitted together (= super quick). Quick! Good lord they were so quick. Two nights of tv watching, and they were all done. (Hey, maybe this is why they are called "tv slippers"?). Sylvie made the pompoms to finish them off in very styley fashion.
In terms of knitting enjoyment, this project was a 5/10. The yarn was some supersoft synthetic thing that squeaked as I knitted it, and my 4 mm needles are horrible plastic things that have blunt ends and split the wool if you don't pay attention. Yick. However, in terms of satisfaction, they're a 9/10. She likes them and wears them all the time.  And, they look really cute, in a kind of silly and fun way. I like to think that they might save her life in a snow storm.
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