Tuesday, 3 November 2015

New Yarn...

I have enough yarn - I know this because during a sleepless night last week (a late night coffee three months after almost completely giving up coffee - mistake!) I decided to go through my stash and match it to patterns. I found yarn I don't remember ever acquiring. I found yarn that deserves to be made into something rather than languishing unloved in a box. I found yarn that had been bought for specific patterns and yarn that was bought just because I liked it. I have enough yarn.

And yet...
I work in a fabulous yarn shop and they keep getting gorgeous new yarns. I try to resist but I am weak - resistance is futile.
I seek out yarn shops when we go anywhere - when visiting a yarn shop it would be rude not to buy anything.

And so...
This week I have added to my stash with not one, not two, not three, not four, but five new skeins/balls. However, I'm sure I can justify all of them...

From Marmalade Yarns I got Christmas sock yarn - because it's almost Christmas and I need socks.

I also got 3 skeins of Socks Yeah! because the colours are gorgeous and they would make some beautiful stripy fingerless mitts and I have a stripy fingerless mitt pattern just begging to be used. They would also make a beautiful fairisle hat and I have a fairisle hat pattern that is also begging to be used. Decisions will have to be made.

From Oxford Yarn Store (discovered during a lovely weekend jaunt to Oxford) I bought this beautiful green Aran because I don't have much Aran and I don't have much green and I want to make another pair of cabled fingerless mitts and I think they'd look nice in green.

I made these grey mitts with leftover yarn from the crocheted poncho - the jury's still out on that one but I do like the mitts.

See - easily justified. Now I just need to find the time to finish current wips before starting these...

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Channelling my inner granny!

Despite eldest son using MY sewing room as HIS bedroom during the long summer break from uni, I have managed to churn out a few makes over the last few weeks. My aim is to develop a mostly homemade wardrobe and I'm pleased to have found a couple of dress patterns that I love and plan to make multiple times - more of those in another post (the trouble with having a long break from blogging is there's too much to catch up on when you return!). However, one project that languished in my crochet basket throughout the summer was a crochet top from a rather beautiful Japanese pattern book.

I'd had a John Arbon 3ply yarn in my stash for a while, waiting for a suitable project and decided to match it to this pattern. As the instructions are in Japanese I had no idea what weight of yarn was used originally but a sample motif looked about the right size so I ploughed on. I prefer to work from charts so deciphering the pattern wasn't hard but I had reservations throughout that this wasn't going to work - the Japanese model is very petite and I am most definitely not! Also, it's styled so beautifully in the book which makes it look fresh and modern whereas mine was simply looking like something my Granny might have worn - not the look I was aiming for! However, having it lying there, half done, was annoying me so I bit the bullet this week and just forced myself to finish it. The jury is still out on whether it looks stylish and original or hideous and dated! I also haven't decided whether to put a cord around the neck as per the pattern (too bed jackety?), put a single button on the top, or wear it open like a shawl with sleeves. Option 4, of course, is never to let it see the light of day!

Not learning from this episode I have now started a crocheted poncho - it seems I really am a girl of the 70's after all!

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Summer Lull

The Summer holiday is whizzing along and although I love the change in routine I find I don't use the time so much for making and painting, but for planning. I did manage to whizz up a little shawlette with a single skein of some beautiful Skein Queen 4ply that I've had for about a year, and I finally made my husband the shirt I've been promising him for ages...

I was particularly pleased with the shirt and enjoyed making it slowly and carefully. I've already promised eldest son one for his graduation next year and may well make hubby another one for Christmas. 

I have two knitting projects and three crochet projects on the go and plans for more chicken paintings in the Autumn. In the meantime I'm having a good old sort out of my studio so that when two eldest boys go back to uni and peace is restored then I'll be ready to go!

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Flamingos and Chickens!

Don't you just love it when you go into work on a Monday morning to be told your main task of the day is to sew together and stuff a knitted flamingo?! I love my job!

So, said flamingo is now stuffed and sitting in the new tropical themed window. I also made some watermelon and banana bunting (as you do) and a watermelon cushion, and Maxine made some pineapple bunting and pineapple teacosies. Catriona is crocheting a second flamingo (well, it would be cruel to just have the one!)
We're just waiting now for Carmen Miranda to make an appearance!

Having not done much painting of late I thought I better do a few new pieces for the upcoming Open Studios. I wasn't going to paint any more birds but in the end I couldn't resist. I wanted to experiment with painting with acrylic on wood and began with one of my favourites - a rather sinister looking crow. However, I then felt like doing something a bit lighter and more colourful so painted a rather daft looking chicken! I have to say, I don't think this will be my last time painting a chicken - I love their goofy expressions. I have several friends who keep chickens so I plan on going round and photographing them. Maybe my next exhibition could be called "Chickens of Frome"!

I also managed to make up some pendants - these are very satisfying to make (apart when when I almost stuck two of my fingers to one of them! Note to self - superglue dries fast!)

I'm currently working on a painting of a hare although I'm not sure if it will be ready for setting up the Open Studio on Friday. Nevertheless it feels good to be back in the studio, and the combination of sunny weather and Wimbledon on the radio (come on Murray!) makes the perfect backdrop. Happy days!

Thursday, 11 June 2015

It's too warm to wear a cardigan...

...just as I finished two of them! Clearly my clothes making is affecting the climate - I make a Summer dress - it rains, I make a cosy cardi - we get a heatwave!
I finished the Rowan Felted Tweed one a couple of weeks ago and despite being quite lightweight it is incredibly warm. I do like it a lot but it's quite hard to wear done up as I've chosen buttons for their prettiness rather than their practicality! They're a smidge too small and also not deep enough so the slightest amount of pressure and they pop open. I'm hoping to remedy this by sewing some ribbon on the back of the button bands. I've not done this before so I'm looking forward to trying it out. I've chosen some bright orange spotty ribbon to add a secret splash of colour!

My second cardigan was started and finished in about 10 days which is a record for me. I am a terribly slow knitter but this one is cropped with 3/4 length sleeves and worked in an aran weight so it positively flew off the needles! The pattern is Miette and is free on Ravelry and was a really easy knit. I really like the vintage feel of it, particularly the shaping for the bust. The only changes I made were to lengthen the body by a couple of inches and shorten the sleeves slightly. I was worried it was working up too small but now it's finished and blocked it fits fine. I haven't put buttons on it yet but I'm planning on putting in some ribbon reinforcements in this one too as the negative ease means there's quite a lot of strain on it and I don't want the button band to gape.

It's amazing how different the colour looks in the first two photos - in reality it's somewhere in between the two. I'm sure I'll make at least one more of these - maybe in a pale pink or buttery yellow. In the meantime I still have an Open Studio to prepare for (procrastinate, me? Never!)

Monday, 1 June 2015

June already...

...and as I type this it's blowing a gale outside and feels like winter! The changeable weather certainly created a few challenges with Me-Made-May. Most of my home sewn clothes seem most suited to warmer weather so it has required some serious layering to stick to the challenge! However I'm pleased to report that I managed to wear at least one item of home made clothing every day during the month of May - hurray! I did make a few extra garments to prevent boredom kicking in and it also made me evaluate my wardrobe to the extent that I got rid of 5 full bin bags of clothes that for one reason or another I just didn't wear or like! It's now obvious where the gaps are in my pared down wardrobe and I can enjoy making (wherever possible) clothes that I feel happy in.
Here are some of my May outfits...

Teal linen tunic dress - meant to be worn as a Summer dress but too darn cold so had to be layered. Lovely simple pattern (New Look 0775) but the linen creases really badly (even by linen standards!). Will make again in a drapey fabric.

Simple top made in some cotton I was given (layered up again!).

I like the effect of the spotty bias binding on the sleeve and neck edges. I have quite a lot of spotty binding so this may well become a regular feature!

Black linen dress - this one is sleeveless and doesn't crease quite so badly as the teal linen - I think I'll get a lot of wear out of this one.

This was my blocking technique for my Daybreak Shawl (pattern by Stephen West). I didn't want to lose the straight edge with pins so weighted it lightly with pegs - worked a treat! 

A lovely pattern that works well as a traditional shawl and also in the wrap around style below.

It came in very useful on the chillier days!

I also finished my felted tweed cardigan, which I love (no photos yet but I have worn it several times already) and I've started two more cardies - 1 knitted and 1 crocheted, so all in all, May felt like quite a productive month. June is going to be all about the painting as I gear up for another Open Studio in the Frome Festival!

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Me-Made-May 2015

For the last couple of years I have watched from afar as sewers took part in the Me-Made-May challenge. This year I decided to take the plunge and promise to wear at least one piece of me-made clothing every day throughout the month of May. The challenge was started by the talented Zoe of 'So Zo...What do you know?' . I have decided not to photograph each outfit every day as my homemade wardrobe is still somewhat limited and there will be many repeats throughout the month. So far I have worn the following items quite a lot!

The second picture is a simple little top made from the Learn to Sew with Lauren book and she very helpfully showed how to do a full bust adjustment on her blog, Guthrie & Ghani. This was something I've wanted to try for a while and it was surprisingly straightforward. It was very satisfying to have darts in the right place and not to have to go up a size to ensure a good fit around the bust.

So, 12 days in and I've managed to find something homemade to wear every day but it has made me realise where the gaps are in my homemade wardrobe - solid colours, trousers and cardigans (must knit faster!). I did finish one pair of trousers but they won't be making an appearance outside of the house and certainly not in front of the camera! Let's just say I'm still seeking the perfect trouser pattern!

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Yay - I made a Tee Shirt!

I have spent the last few evenings wrestling with my sewing machine and overlocker, using new stitches, working out how to use a twin needle, trying not to be impatient and refraining from bad language (well, I didn't quite manage the last one!) all for the sake of a tee shirt! I saw this project as a learning process so I used some cheap fabric in case I botched the whole thing up. I've discovered that I don't like cutting out stretch fabric but sewing with it really isn't as difficult as I feared. I used a combination of the super strength straight stitch on my sewing machine for the neckline and armholes and the overlocker for the side and arm seams, and for neatening edges. I used a twin needle for all top stitching and hemming and now I have a homemade tee shirt that I might actually wear out of the house!
Tee shirts aren't really my thing but I do like the v neck and three quarter length sleeves on this one. The neck line was the trickiest bit of the whole thing and although it's far from perfect, it's definitely wearable.

So, inspired by this experience I'm now on the lookout for other stretch fabrics and patterns to sew - there doesn't seem to be a wide variety available in the shops I've been to so I think I need to look online.
I'm considering taking part in the Me Made May challenge but before committing myself to wearing something homemade every day in May I need to come up with a few more items. Consequently I ran up a little cotton tunic which requires no fastenings and is a very quick make. It's the first time I've made this particular pattern and although I do need to make a few adjustments to the fit I can see me making a few more.

It doesn't sit quite right under the arms but luckily my little knitted top not only matches in colour but also covers any fitting issues!
I also couldn't resist using this cotton rich Aran when it arrived in Marmalade Yarns. These colours reminded me of Neapolitan ice cream and were quickly hooked up into a snug cowl. Of course, since making it the sun has shone and I've had no need for it! Never mind, now I've made a summery tee shirt it's bound to rain!

Monday, 13 April 2015

Mimi Blouse

Well, I feel I've got my money's worth from Love at First Stitch as I've now made my third item from it. This time it was the Mimi blouse. I used a drapey lightweight fabric which was a pain to sew and even worse to press (as is horribly clear in these photos!) but the pattern itself is well drafted and, as with the other two patterns I've sewn, clearly explained. I did get confused at one point when attaching the collar but realised later that this was due to my own impatience! If I make this one again, I would go down a size - the shoulders are a bit wide and there's a bit too much roominess in it, but I'm calling this a wearable toile!

Next up is my biggest sewing challenge of late - a simple t shirt (I've never sewn with jersey before) and a pair of trousers! 

I've also finally finished hand painting the commissioned Lino print - I finished the print ages ago but the paper I used wasn't thick enough not to buckle when over painted. If the paper is too thick it's hard to get a good print so I had to try several weights before finding the perfect balance. I've done three versions with slightly different tints in each. One of the things I love about linoprinting is the 
freedom to explore different colour ways - if it doesn't work you can just print another!