Sunday, September 30, 2012

FO: Rainy Weekend in September Socks

Finished!  My September Sockdown socks are completed within the month - amazing!
I joined the Sock Knitters Anonymous Group on Ravelry just in time to start the 2012 Sockdown challenge.  Every month for a year, the Group offers its members a choice of themes for their sock-knitting.  It is a great way to discover new designers / techniques, smash the stash, and generally get yourself fired up about sock-knitting.

For my first challenge, I chose to go with a pattern from one of the featured designers for September, Ingrid Hiddessen.
This pattern, the Rainy Weekend Socks, was only available in German, but right on time, a couple of other Group members decided to work up an English translation, and formed a sub-group to test out their instructions, including me.
However, my socks were complicated by my choice of size.  I wanted to knit a pair of man-socks for FL's Christmas (ssssh!  Don't tell!) so I opted for the "Size 45" variation, which even the original German pattern was a bit vague about.  Really, it is more of a "sock recipe" for the non-standard sizes.
Being toe-up, everyone starts off with a narrow toe-point and increases up to their chosen foot-width before commencing the cable chart.  I went for 72 stitches.
Then it is straightforward knitting until you reach the gusset section, where you increase to accommodate the instep.  My method of making stitches resulted in an attractive row of lacey holes either side of the cabled section.  I suspect that this was not supposed to happen.  Shrug. 

When I reached the point where there were 19 purl stitches either side of the cabled section, I worked the heel turn, as per the instructions.
The original pattern then has the knitter decrease the purls from the heel-flap edge, knitting it together with the instep, row by row - very clever!
However, I needed to preserve my 72 stitch girth, so stopped decreasing while there were still 9 purl stitches either side of the cable, instead of a single stitch as written for the 56-stitch pattern.  This means my ribbing begins quite abruptly at the ankle, rather than appearing as a smooth transition.  I also had to change the width of the ribs to accommodate the extra 8 stitches on either side.  A bit of a bodge-job, to be honest!
The next picture demonstrates "the whole truth"!
It looks as if I have monster toenails!
But don't forget that these socks will be worn by a man with much longer and wider feet, who is not in the habit of showing off his gussets... at least I do hope he isn't!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Seasonal Sewing Assessment: Autumn Edition

Ms Scruffy Badger recently wrote an interesting piece on her most-often-worn wardrobe items, before packing away her summer clothes.
It amuses me to think that a lady who has managed to accumulate enough sunlight to get a tan this year has performed the seasonal switchover before me, up here in the frozen north, where I can honestly remember a grand total of 5 properly hot days across the entire summer!
This weekend, I will be putting away clothes that have never actually seen the (sun)light of day...
In these circumstances, I need to concentrate harder on developing a flexible range of clothing that can be worn come hail or high water.
Self-Stitched September was such a useful exercise  - it came at exactly the right time of the year to span most weather conditions.  I missed it this year!

September 2012 Breakdown:
Maybe I can piece together from memory what I have worn to work for the past two weeks, just to see...

What I wore:

17 - South Riding blouse, dark denim Kelly skirt, navy cardigan
18 - Stripey Renfrew, grey Lisette Portfolio trousers, navy cardigan, spotty scarf
19 - Dotty Renfrew, Betsey Johnson flares, Betty Jean McNeil cardigan
20 - Aubergine t shirt (shop-bought), Mushroom print Ginger skirt, Audrey-in-Unst cardigan
21 - Vicar's Wife blouse, dark denim Kelly skirt, navy cardigan

*****le weekend*****

24 - Robe Sureau, Percy shawl, navy cardigan
25 - Dotty Renfrew, Betsey Johnson flares, Betty Jean McNeil cardigan, simple but effective shawl
26 - Stripey Renfrew, dark denim Kelly skirt, navy cardigan, Orla Kiely for Uniqlo scarf
27 - Dark pink l-sleeve t (shop), dark denim Kelly skirt, navy cardigan, Laura Ashley for Uniqlo scarf
28 - Black polo neck sweater (shop), Heart Print Kelly skirt, Japanese pattern black jacket.
Stats and analysis:
In two weeks, I have only worn four garments that I did not make myself:  two long-sleeved t shirts, a black polo neck sweater and the navy cardigan of dubious ethics.  I also wore a few RTW big scarves - essential neck coverage in my draughty office.

  • I wore my dark denim Kelly skirt 4 times!  She looks fab with a preppy blouse and cardi :)
  • I wore my Renfrews twice each.
  • I wore the navy cardigan six times.
  • I was wonderfully warm and comfortable and felt smart in my new Robe Sureau - woo hoo!

What does this tell me?
I could definitely use more long-sleeved tops.
The absence of a black cardigan and/or simple non-polo-neck black  long sleeved top or sweater in my wardrobe is just embarrassingly stoopid!  Wearing my Japanese pattern jacket was a compromise - I would much prefer something less structured for everyday wear. There are things in my wardrobe I can't wear for the lack of black top layers.  But having said that, I probably looked smarter in the jacket!
It is not going to be warm enough to have bare arms under any of my cardigans for at least the next 6 months, so why is my wardrobe stuffed with sleeveless tops?  I won't wear them!

If I had more warm dresses, I would wear them!
If I had more "plain" skirts I would wear them!

Another pair of warm smart trousers wouldn't go wrong.

Before the switchover, 28/09/12

So what am I going to do?
Stick to my plan of making a mustard cord Kelly skirt and a tangerine flippy skirt:  simple basics with a pop of colour.
If I also made a black skirt and a brown skirt I would officially have too many skirts... but every eventuality would be covered and it would not matter if I dropped my breakfast on my skirt one morning ;)
I need to sew a black top or cardigan, as knitting takes too long and I would be cross-eyed and cold by the time I finished.
It is time to pack away any sleeveless top that does not work as a "layering" garment.
I must make more long-sleeved tops:  Renfrews?  Or how about the Deer and Doe Blouse Airelle pattern I haven't ordered yet? ; )
I won't rule out the possibility of making more long-sleeved warm dresses... but it's not a high priority.
I ought to pull my finger out and rustle up another pair of Lisette Portfolio trousers using aubergine stretch wool I bought  ages ago.
Is that a plan?  Could be!
Hang on a minute -  is that new fabric I see, Roo?
Oh... um... yes.  I had a bit of a splurge over at Cousette Market (a French fabric site).
They have a seriously gorgeous selection of high-quality fabrics.  Not cheap. But not extortionate either.

From left to right:  silk / cotton dobby voile in a gorgeous capuccino colour - so soft!;  super-fine blue chambray with a printed black spot - ooh!; and some deep purple cotton voile with spots and flowers - a much darker colour in real life and very drapey.  The chambray was intended for a Robe Bleuet, but may be too thin.
The other two fabrics are also probably seasonally-inappropriate, but oh so beautiful.  As long as I can keep them safe from moths, they will probably have to wait until spring.
Maybe I need to emigrate!

So what am I stitching now?
I have two sewing WIPs:  my cobalt blue raincoat and my Pattern Pyramid Dress.  The dress has a deadline of 8 October, so that's my first priority... but I really really want to finish knitting my September socks this weekend. 
So much to do, so little time!

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Cat May Look at The Queen

Today was the official opening of the University's new library by Her Majesty the Queen.
I was up there on the first floor balcony, a position befitting my place in the hierarchy. 
Not quite good enough for the ground floor, but fortunately not relegated to the seventh!
It suited my personality to be in the position of observer, with a bird's eye view of proceedings.
No need to curtsey  - phew!
There is a whole book to be written about today:  the nuances of interaction between the Great and the Good;  the shuffling for position;  the attention-seeking;  the absurdity of it all.
The actual "opening" was... sudden, and perhaps slightly unexpected?
As if Her Majesty decided she had somewhere else she would rather be... if only her husband would stop joking around with the lads!
And she's off!  On her own, leaving behind the men in suits.
A round of applause, please?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

FO: Deer & Doe Scottish Sureau

Here it is, the work of a day:  my first Robe Sureau by Deer & Doe.

I didn't set out to make a dress in a day.

I cut it out late last night and intended to just sew a little before settling down with my knitting in front of a dvd... but then I was swept away by the idea of having a new dress to wear tomorrow.

A dress fit to meet the Queen!

No, actually I'm not kidding...

Pattern:  Robe Sureau by Deer & Doe, size 36 with slight adjustments at the waist (see below).
Fabric:  2 metres of a warm cotton / viscose seersucker-ish plaid, from Mandors in Edinburgh at the Crafters' Ceilidh back in January.  Cost?  About £12 in total, I think.
Buttons:  1940's vintage, rescued from my over-sized Eva Dress trousers.
Lace:  (Added to insides of hems of skirt and sleeves) From the depths of the stash, bought at eebaay at least 8 years ago.
Zip:  From stash.

The Fabric
OK, can I just say that this fabric was horribly difficult to match up?  The check itself was bad enough, but the seersucker-ish texture added to my troubles.  It is bouncy!
I can only assume there is some sort of elastication running through the puckered sections of the fabric, which made it wriggle out of alignment, just when I thought I had got my pattern-matching nailed.
The mis-match is at its worst around the junction of the bodice and the skirt.
But that's what belts are for! ; )
Luckily, I managed to get the checks to line up on the bodice front... with a bit of finagling.

The Pattern:

But you really want to know about the Deer & Doe pattern, don't you?

Friends?  It is FABULOUS!

Seriously, I am SO impressed by the presentation, the drafting, the instructions, the design...

This is everything you want an independent pattern to be.
Rather like Megan Nielsen's patterns, it is printed on sturdy paper, which I chose to trace.

It comes complete with a comprehensive instruction booklet (printed on recycled paper) which is currently only available in French.  (But an English version is on its way.)

I will come clean with you:  I can read French without much difficulty.  It was my second-best subject at school (after Latin!) and I have kept it up through occasional novel-reading and regular blog-reading.  I can't speak the language for toffee, and my written French is a bit ropey, but yes, I am a fluent reader.

So I found the instructions easy to follow.  Lovely, clear diagrams accompany the text.
Are the diagrams enough?  Probably not, to be honest. 

Unless you understand or Google-translate the words, you will miss the helpful advice on details like finishing the seams.  As an experienced sew-ist you would probably do your own thing and make a perfectly wearable garment, but the instructions are good and well worth following.

I was most impressed by the bodice design.

The neckline is pretty low, but I think a girl with a bigger bust would have more to hold it up!  It is intended for a C or D cup, and I am neither of those.  Nevertheless, I think I get away with it.

The facing is impeccable.  I would consider having it on the outside of the dress instead of the inside.  Seriously!
It is built to stay in place and was drafted to within a millimetre of perfection. 

My weird fabric did not suit double-layering, so I used a simple poly-cotton remnant from the stash.

The only thing I did differently was that I added a strip of bias tape on the underside of the false buttonband, to cover the raw edges of my super-fraying fabric:  zigzags were not enough!

In terms of size, I found the given waist measurements to be alarmingly small.  I chose to cut the size 36 as it fitted my bust and hip, but was far too tiny for my waist.  However, the waist-line darts are really wide, so I simply narrowed them down by 1cm on each leg of each dart, which added a scary but entirely necessary 8cm to the waist measurement. 


I am extremely happy with my new dress!
I hope the Queen appreciates the trouble I went to, but I doubt she will notice me.

More about that tomorrow!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Joining Things and Saving Things

Always around this time of year I get the urge to Join Things.

When I lived in London, the "evening class" options were unlimited other than by time and budget.  Here?  Hmmm... not so much.  And although I would love to do an art or textiles course at the local college, it isn't terribly "local" when you already drive into the city from the Shire... and the college is a further drive out from the other end of town.  Besides which, I like to be around for FL in the evenings.  By the time I get home and cook, we only have an hour or two together before he is fast asleep.
First Rainy Weekend Sock for a man's Christmas gift ;)
So  far, the only thing I have joined is the Sock Knitters Anonymous group on Ravelry, which is a very lively community of knitters.  Over-achievers the lot of them, though - I just can't match the speed of many of these ladies!  Three pairs of socks in a month is par for the course.  Me?  I am lucky if I manage one pair.
This month's socks are probably my biggest challenge because they are a man-sized 72 stitches with cables and are worked toe-up, which is not my preferred style of knitting.  But I am getting there.  After a dreadful phase of  mis-calculations and fluffy splitty unpicking around the heel-flap, I finally have a whole sock.
Can I finish the second within the month?  I hope so!
Flapping toe as man-sized sock

But there remains a certain twitchiness, as if I expect to be handed a new timetable and a reading list to guide my thinking.

I could be vulnerable to joining a yarn club, if something tempting presents itself to me.

It is all very well setting myself unrealistic goals to knit all the patterns in a book (my solution:  sell the book before I knit even one!) but it lacks a social element.

The really popular yarn clubs (American, mostly) have dozens of knitters all working on the same thing at the same time - that really appeals to me.  Peer pressure and support.

Knitalongs are like that too - but I have never stuck to one of those either!  Tell me what to do and I'll do it... but only if I like it! ;)

Somewhat off topic, and since we are all friends here, I want to consult you about my new lipstick.  I'm just not sure about it.  I was trying to update my "look".

It is Test by Illamasqua.  It starts off this sort of Elastoplast / Germolene colour and then, get this, gets darker as it wears off!

There must be a darker pigment under all that... beigeness.  Certainly I leave deep pink stains on my coffee cup (classy!)  My concern is that it gives the impression that I have put foundation on my lips and that my own ruddy skin tone looks like an allergic rash next to it?

Ah, Roo, you are such a glamour-puss (not!)

And finally, this week's top ten money-saving tips? 
1 - Take a packed lunch
2 - Make coffee instead of buying it from the cafe
3 - Make a star chart for every time you manage 1 or 2
4 - Send your children away for the good of their education (though note this is a temporary solution - just wait for the University fees!)
5 - After 4, downgrade your broadband allowance
6 - After 5, end your Lovefilm subscription
7 - Watch the electricity meter slow its spin and adjust monthly payments to suit
8 - Design your weekly menu around the Reduced stickers in M&S.  A couple can eat like kings on £30 a week, I kid you not!
9 - Avoid a certain seductive independent French pattern company website
10 - Do not click links from said French pattern site to French fabric retailers...  oops!

P.S.  My Deer and Doe patterns arrived!  That was just  two days' delivery time - amazing!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

More about Deer and Doe

OK, so I am obsessed...

I just wanted to share some more details about Deer and Doe patterns for all non-French speakers out there.  I have no affiliation to Eleonore or her small business, I just like what she is doing!

The pattern-testers are starting to come out of the woodwork, and a good place to start your Deer-stalking "in the wild" is at this blog: Deer and Doe Addicts.

Paunnet has a great interview (in English) with Eleonore on her blog here... with a giveaway!

And over on the Deer and Doe shop blog, Eleonore is doing a style-by-style introduction to the patterns, starting with the Robe Sureau.

Me? I have ordered two dress patterns:  Sureau and Bleuet.  I had a slight mis-hap with Paypal, which automatically added "France" to my address (lol!) and had to email Eleonore, which I did in secondary-school-level French.  She replied in English and mentioned that the diagrams are very clear, so language should not be a barrier.

Now I just have to be patient until my order arrives...

I know - I'll knit a sock!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Reading: The Happiness Project

I may have forgotten my knickers, but I packed quite a stack of books to take on holiday, and ended up reading only one:  The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.
It started well enough, with the familiar topic of decluttering, and I was full of enthusiasm for all the areas of my home I would tackle on return from my holiday, fired up with evangelical zeal. And I did it too - on the very day we arrived home, I filled yet another black bag full of tat and hauled it to the bin at the end of the road!
But Chapter Two was about "Marriage" and I regret that reading it made me feel brittle and unhappy.  The final sentence of this chapter had me set the book aside for a while:  "When you give up expecting a spouse to change (within reason), you lessen anger and resentment and that creates a more loving atmosphere in a marriage."  Excuse me?  You want me to accept whatever crap my metaphorical partner throws at me because I have no right to expect him/her to change?  Uh uh no way, honey.  What is this?  Stepford Wives?  That was my instant reaction - I may have calmed down since then.
I think she may mean:
"If you don't like something change it; if you can't change it, change the way you think about it."
~Mary Engelbreit
Which brings me to the main issue I had with this book:  I did not like the people in it.
This has been a recurrent problem of late.  Wuthering Heights?  What a bunch of bad-tempered social misfits!  The Crimson Petal and The White?  Dearie me, are there no redeeming features to any of these characters? 
But it has gradually dawned on me that I don't have to like the people to gain something positive from this book / any book.  In this case, Gretchen and her metropolitan NY "stunt life" (her words not mine) were grating at times, but she put her finger on some important truths which I can apply to my own circumstances.  Things like:  "Act with energy", "Smile", "Do it every day"...
In my week away I did not drink disgusting lattes every morning, or wolf down a KitKat at 9am to set me up for the day.  Instead I was off up the hill, with the dog in hot pursuit, rain or shine.  And I felt a lot better.  Just moving makes a difference.  Act with energy! Who knew?
And I monitored my responses to conflict when FL was feeling lousy on his post-Dexy-downer and I tried harder to be kind instead of defensive when he criticised me for a perceived inadequacy. NOT the same as the Stepford Wife reflex, but definitely better for our relationship than inwardly sighing or sniping straight back.
Some of her ideas are not for me.  I do NOT think it would add to marital harmony if I shouted:  "Milk!" at FL instead of the more long-winded: "Could you please get some milk while you are out, darling?"  In this case, her recommended use of fewer words would lead to short-tempered words, I suspect!  But reading about her experiments with spirituality / collecting bluebirds / dealing with fractious toddlers was almost always interesting.  She certainly made me think.
Back at work, and I am filled with the resolutionary spirit.  I have taken my cafetiere to work, to make my own coffee instead of drinking half a pint of barely-flavoured brown cow juice every day.  I have started making a packed lunch instead of  grabbing the same boring sandwich from the Tesco petrol station.  I am doing this for lots of reasons:  to save money, to eat more healthily and to free up my lunch hour to do something more interesting than trailing up the road to the garage... I am not sure what that thing is yet, but it will come to me!
So... should you read this book?  Yes, why not! Just don't blame me if you find yourself setting up a permanent Halloween photo gallery / shrine or making laminated placemats for the grandparents with "10 reasons why you love them"...  err... maybe not!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Jolis Patrons de Couture! Deer & Doe

Bonjour mes amies!
J'ai une manie nouvelle:  les patrons de Deer& Doe!

La Bluse Airelle

I signed up for email alerts from Eleonore some time ago.  And today I received the news that her pattern shop is open for business, here.
Oh my!
You might know Eleonore from her old blog pachi-pachi.  She inspired me to try the Bella trouser pattern when she constructed her Best Jeans Ever.  She made some fab clothes from Japanese patterns too, back in the day.
La Robe Bleuet
But how time has flown, and now here she is, a bona fide pattern designer in her own right - and from the looks of it, she is going to give Colette a run for their money!
The only catch?  She is 100% French and so are her patterns.  But from the preview pics on her blog, it looks as if her instruction booklets include plenty of clear diagrams.  And you've heard of Google translate haven't you?  Come on - it can't be as hard to understand as Burda's style of English!
La Robe Sureau

I am struggling to choose between them.  The dresses are so cute!  That blouse is so versatile! And the coat is a little bit Abbey, a little bit Anise, but absolutely itself.
Her fabric choices are spot-on too, and handily (some bank managers might say tragically) she provides a link to her source fabric shop - oooooh!

La Veste Pavot

Time to brush up my language skills I think!
A bientot!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

FO: Long-Distance Knicker Blogger Glories

Knickers in Nature

 Ta Ra Ra Boom De -Ay
My knickers flew away!
They went on HO - LI - DAY
They came back yes - terday!

(Well, today actually...)

Musical holiday knickers

When ScruffyBadger invited me to join her in Bath for a knicker-making session, I was SO excited!

And then I realised two things: 
1 - I live at the opposite end of the UK and Eastern Airways are not reknowned for their economy flights
2 - The chosen date, which initially looked PERFECT, turned out to be the only week FL and I could get away on holiday this side of Christmas.


Hunting holiday knickers
But you know me, once I am on a mission, I refuse to be thwarted...

Game-for-anything holiday knickers
So this weekend I carried out my very own long-distance Knicker Blogger Glory Workshop!

Scruffy and friends, these knickers are dedicated to you all, with love and long distance hugs!
Next time - I'll be there!

Knickers at rest
Pattern:  Tracing of my favourite pants.
Fabric:  Half a metre of Liberty jersey from Our Patterned Hand (= 3 pairs of knickers), £7.50
Other:  4 metres of stretch lace from a bundle of remnants found on eebaay, about £0.75 (for all 3 pairs)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Pattern Pyramid: The Winner!

We interrupt this week's back-to-back Time Team-watching extravaganza to draw the lucky winner's name from the Pattern Pyramid rainbow hat!

And the winner is...

Kristen lives in California and recently made a very fine pair of Clover shorts.  Actually, she has been making lots of lovely things this summer  - go and have a look!  Love that Pomegranate voile dress!  Ooh - and I recognise that bird print on her t shirt!

Kristen - I will switch on comment moderation for this post so that you can leave me your contact email address without displaying it to the world :)  Thanks for getting in touch Kristen  - the patterns will be on their way tomorrow!

Everyone else?  Thank you so much for entering!  I have lots of interesting new blogs to explore as a result.

So, the Pattern Pyramid package will soon be setting off across the Atlantic Ocean for the next leg in its journey.  My own PP dress is taking me far longer than expected after I discovered that my pinstriped wool was peppered with moth holes - fab!  Time to rethink...

FL and I head home tomorrow.  Today I will be making the most of my dog-walking opportunities in the forest, and hope to rustle up a few pairs of knickers in long-distance support of some blog-pals who are sewing up a knicker-storm many many miles south of here today.  Actually, I must make some knickers... because I didn't pack enough pairs to last the whole holiday!  Oops!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Taking Dictation

So here we are, out for a walk in the woods, the morning after the Dexy Day before.
FL's cold is improving, as is his mood.
I have been working on my Rainy Weekend Socks for the SKA September challenge.  I have had to adjust the pattern to suit a 72 stitch leg.  Details on my Ravelry page here.
I learned a new type of short row heel, which uses a double-stitch.  Socktopus has a step-by-step picture guide to it here.
Amazing stuff!  At last - a toe-up sock without a peppering of holes at the heel! 

And this is how far I have got with my Pattern Pyramid dress...

The pattern piece for the "vest" is missing, and although I think I can draft a replacement, it is not helped by the fact that this section of the instruction sheet has been torn.  The perils of vintage patterns!

Today I plan to make the main bodice and try it on for size.  My measuring tape suggests a good fit:  the darts are in the right place, the bust is my size (on paper) and the underarm-to-waist measurement is about right too.

The neckline is slightly alarming though! 

It looks very much as if it is designed to fit snug and high at the side of the neck, swooping off at an angle towards the underarm like  Snow White's gown.  You know the shape I mean?

I'm not sure how this will look on me... watch this space!

But to be honest, I have been putting more energy into: reading The Happiness Project, walking the dog, and helping FL with his book.

I could not resist including this picture of him, having a moment of inspiration, high on Dexies! (If you are new to my blog, I ought to explain that he takes steroids as part of his chemotherapy regime, not just for kicks!)

The book is currently written in bits and pieces across all those notebooks you can see spread out on those three surfaces.  Only he knows the order in which to read... which means that he had intended to dictate the entire thing to me in real time, as I sat at the laptop.  O....M....G!
Many years ago, I was a high-powered PA with my feet on the transcriber pedals, and state-of-the-art headphones clamped to my ears, as I typed my prestigious boss's words of wisdom at 60 wpm plus.  But that was very different:  I was in control of the speed, with one foot on the rewind button.  And I wasn't married to the boss.
Poor FL was totally bewildered when I explained that I could not possibly take live dictation from him and remain sane and calm and serene... and married to him.  I took the dog out for a walk while he considered his options.  When I returned, I was presented with a pile of pages representing the first six pages, ready to type out...  the joy of computers being that we can rearrange the text later.  Marital peace has been restored. 
But it does mean I don't have as much sewing time as I expected...

P.S.  It's almost your last chance to enter the Pattern Pyramid giveaway

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Sock in Nature

 In the grand tradition of knitting bloggers across the planet, may I present my latest sock project with scenic backdrop?
That's Loch Broom you can see beyond the trees.
FL and I are here on holiday.  He has a stinking cold and as a result is thoroughly grumpy, but Hero and I are having a lovely time revisiting old haunts and finding new patches of heather to sniff.
There was a mix up with our holiday cottage booking, so we spent the first night at an unexpected house with the beautiful balcony you see in the first picture.
I could happily have stayed there, if only for the well-stocked bookshelves with plenty of old favourites to browse through.  There was a whole row of vegetarian cookbooks, and a full range of spices in the kitchen cupboard:  my kind of house!

Today we moved over to our "own" holiday home.  We've stayed here before and it has everything we need.  I have spent the afternoon knitting my sock and letting the dog set the pace on the hills.  FL has had a sleep.
P.S. Don't forget - you have til Friday to enter the Pattern Pyramid giveaway!

Sunday, September 09, 2012

FO: Kelly Skirt for Every Day

Oh hello again!
Another weekend... another Kelly skirt!
This time it's the dark denim version I have been imagining all along.
I have a thing about denim skirts.  I have had at least one in my wardrobe every year since 1978.
This one is most like the 1982 version, except it was "prairie style" with a flounce at the bottom.  Same abalone shell buttons though!

I am hopeful that this one is smart enough to wear to work, because it is my dream of an everyday skirt:  simple, practical, goes with everything...

And this time the pleats are hanging nicely, the lining is not causing a puffball-effect... and I have finally had a haircut - hallelujah!

Pattern:  Kelly Skirt MN2201 from Megan Nielsen, size XS.
Fabric:  One metre of Japanese denim from Our Patterned Hand, £16.50. Expensive? Yes, but it is truly lovely stuff - soft and drapey enough for a dress or a shirt and in a really rich deep indigo blue.
I lined it with bog standard dark grey polyester from the stash.
Buttons:  Nine shell buttons found on eebaay, from a packet of ten, about £2.

Straightforward sewing.  I know what I am doing with this pattern now, and I just got on and did it!

Only one thing to note, about the buttonholes.  I sewed them all vertically.  When I made my print version, I ran the top two horizontally to allow room to breathe / eat lunch.  That was a mistake.  They shift around and annoy me.

And on the topic of buttonholes - I finally used the correct presser foot on my Bernina machine and it was so much easier to see what I was doing!  All these years, I have been using the wrong foot - duh!

Fab, fab, fab!  Exactly what I wanted!  Wardrobe gap plugged!  Now I just have to be persuaded to wear something else occasionally...

PS:  Don't forget to enter my pattern Pyramid giveaway- you have until Friday 14th at midnight!

Friday, September 07, 2012

Pattern Pyramid Giveaway! Live here today!!

Look what arrived in rural Aberdeenshire yesterday!  All the way from Carolyn in Australia, its the next thrilling instalment in the Pattern Pyramid giveaway extravaganza - woo hoo!

It didn't take me long to choose this amazing vintage pattern for my Pyramid make.
Designed for striped fabric, it has a sweetheart neckline with an inset pin-tucked "vest" (aka modesty panel), bias cut skirt and interesting v-shaped waistline.  Ooh!

I am thinking of diving deep into the stash to use up some long-languishing pinstriped suiting to make a career-sharp interview dress ; )

I felt destined to rescue this pattern from its travels when I saw from its outer envelope that in 2009, it travelled from Bournemouth to Inverness, a mere hundred miles away!  Did the addressee Cathy ever sew it?  (If you are Cathy, do leave a comment and let me know!)  As you can probably see, it is getting pretty tattered, and I doubt it would survive many more international jet-setting adventures.  I decided it was too fragile to try to photocopy the instructions, trace the pieces and send it on its way.  I will handle it with great care while I make my dress and then it is staying at home in Scotland in the Roobeedoo archive, away from strong light, damp or heat.

But what does this mean for you, as a potential Pattern Pyramid winner?

It means that if you are the lucky commenter to have your name drawn from FL's Rainbow hat, you will be sent the other four patterns, plus the Burda magazine from the original parcel and a batch of Pattern Pyramid sew-in labels ...  plus a special mystery pattern which I will choose from my own pattern stash. It might be a pattern I have already made myself, or it might be one that I had set aside to list in  my Etsy shop... wait and see!

No patterns were harmed in the making of this image in Paint

Are you ready?

OK, off we go!

  • Anyone, anywhere can enter the giveaway by posting a comment below by midnight GMT Friday 14 September 2012 BUT you must have an active blog. (Reasons to become obvious.)
  • I will randomly select ONE winner.
  • I will post the patterns shown above (minus the ?-marked one), plus one mystery pattern, along with a batch of Pattern Pyramid woven labels to be sewn into anything made from one of these patterns.
  • The winner will pick one pattern to keep for themselves, then host their own giveaway. They will randomly select a winner, post the remaining patterns to that Person E. Person E will pick a pattern for themselves, host their own giveaway and post the remaining patterns to the winner, Person F. Person F will…
  • If you are the winner, please consider making a small contribution to The Brooke. This is a charity close to the heart of Catherine, who so generously provided these patterns.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a dress to make...  see you next week!  Good luck!