A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Stash enhancement Saturday

I think my habit is starting to get out of hand. When I first started, I thought it was no biggie. I only made a purchase right before I wanted to use, and I was an occasional user. I started to acquire paraphernalia, sure, but that was easy enough to manage. It was just a harmless pastime.

Recently, things have started to change. I started to keep a little stash at home, purely for emergencies. Then I decided to start keeping a little something something in my bag, for those occasional moments of down-time. At the bus stop. Maybe in the park. The usual places.

Other addicts noticed my fervour. We began to exchange elicit glances across train carriages. Whispered exchanges in dim corridors. They started to get me onto the hard stuff.

Exotic blends.

The finest South American.


Pray for me.

How fitting

Thursday was the first of my three evening sewing sessions working on Sew Over It’s Cigarette Pants. I feel a little less anxious about being massively underqualified for this workshop. My processes seem to take me longer than some others in the group, but I’m hoping I can manage to come out with some serviceable trousers.
The first week focused mostly on fit. The lovely instructor, Julie, had toiles in every size, which was helpful. She first took all of our measurements and compared them to the pattern measurements. I was pretty horrified that, according to my ‘natural waist’ measurement, I needed a Size 14 trouser! Part of the reason for doing this course is that trousers don’t fit me and this is the inherent problem- my body shape bears little resemblance to the model they use for making trousers. My hip measurement was equivalent to a Size 10, and here I am rocking that sexy toile.

Fit. Pun intended.
Despite my panic about the sizing, we didn’t make too many modifications to the pattern before cutting. I lengthened the legs by 5cm.


We also added some wedges to the waistband pattern, to account for my shape. This only adds half an inch, but hopefully will mean that the waistband will sit better.


The next step was cutting out.


I also measured the amount of fabric used for future reference- pretty much spot on 1.3m, as specified in the pattern. This was really helpful- if you are paying £17/m for quality fabric, knowing the exact yardage affects the cost of your final items significantly.

I did a little homework on Saturday, cutting out all of my lining pieces.


Next week we’ll start to put the pieces together, and I’m looking forward to it already!

So close Sunday: Rainbow fingerless gloves

A few weeks ago, I posted about some rainbow fingerless gloves that I’d started knitting. Here‘s where I managed to get to.

In progress rainbow mitts 

Since I had to make this for a pretty tight deadline, I gathered all the colours and took them with me on a forthcoming trip to France to visit my dad. Here I am casting off the first glove in a queue at the airport. I love travel knitting, it really reduces my stress.

Casting off rainbows 

So I continued knitting away on my mini break, and as I started to near the finish line, I realised something. A small knot of dread lodged itself in my chest, and slowly grew with each additional stitch.

So close!

Noooooooooooooo!

I ran out of black acrylic. Clearly I did something to anger the knitting gods.

Since I moved house, I seem to have misplaced these mitts. I’ve managed to locate some extra yarn that would do, just to give myself a sense of completion. I’m going to a festival in the summer and I’d really like to take these along.

Pattern: Simple Fingerless Mitts (free pattern!)

Yarn: Various scraps (mostly acrylic DK, some sock held double) from my stash

Needle: 3.5mm DPNs

Ravelry project page

Dog-ball crochet

I wanted to make something very quick last week, for a cool reason and definitely not for a Quidditch match in the HPKCHC, and I decided I would finally extend my crochet skills for making amigurumi. If you’ve ever seen cute crocheted toys, they are probably amigurumi, which I think is a Japanese technique. I made two simple stuffed golden balls. No sniggering in the back!

Each sphere probably only took half an hour. I learned how to do a single crochet, and how to increase and decrease single crochets. My crocheting really is incredibly basic and they were very simple techniques to learn. I stuffed them with old tights to make them more animal friendly. Here they are being played with by an adorable puppy.

Puppy playing with crocheted ball

The pattern is available for free on Ravelry, and is actually a Golden Snitch pattern, but I couldn’t be bothered making the wings.

Pattern

Ravelry project page

Yarn: Some cheap acrylic DK from my stash

Hook: 3.5mm

Sew Over Trousers

2015 seems to be the year I’ve got into sewing in a big way. My goal as a crafter is to make things that are beautiful, and of sufficiently high quality that they look like they came from a cute little boutique. I’ve discovered in the seven years since I first picked up a pair of knitting needles that creating beauty is a learning process. It’s probably one that will never end, which I can handle. I am a firm believer in lifelong learning. I finally feel like I’m developing an intuitive understanding of fabric, pattern and my own body, which seems to come only through experience. And by experience, I mean failure.

While I love knitwear, man cannot clothe himself with wool alone, as the famous saying goes. The time has come for me to learn sewing, my mother’s art. Because I live in a rented room in a house share, I don’t think it’s practical to buy a sewing machine. This means that I do all my sewing at my mum’s. While this arrangement has multiple advantages, such as access to an overlocker and my mum’s extensive experience, it also has drawbacks, such as my mum’s extensive experience. When mum sees someone doing something badly, she can’t help but take over. I share this trait. Combined with my perfectionism, which means that I would rather have her sew things for me than do a poor job myself, we have a situation in which I don’t grow as a sewer (ah! I finally see why people use the term ‘sewist’!) like I have as a knitter.

Anyway, that was an extremely long way of me saying that I have booked myself onto a sewing class. Specifically, Cigarette Pants by Sew Over It. Check these babies out.


I am a little anxious as this is an advanced class and I am in no way an advanced sewist. It would be generous to say I’m even intermediate. But I really love these trousers- they’re the only ones in the SOI oeuvre with pockets and I am a staunch proponent of practical clothing for women. I’m going to use the army blue fabric I talked about here.

Army blue fabric and Ultimate Trousers pattern

There’s some gorgeous printed chambray on the Sew Over It site that I’m very tempted by. I may make my first trousers from the army blue as practice, then attempt some super snazzy chambray work trews later in the summer. Exciting!

I’m hoping that having a very solid sewing pattern is going to solve my trouser problem. Never in twenty-eight years on this planet have I found a pair of trousers that fit. The last pair I had, which I loved so much that I wore out the crotch (and not for the first time, nudge wink!), fit perfectly on my legs but were at least two inches too big around the waist. I have never been able to wear trousers without a belt.

For the next three Thursdays I will be heading into terro incognito, with naught but two metres of fabric and my wits to guide me. I’m hoping to come back with a badass pair of pants and the wherewithal to make more. Wish me luck!

WiP Wednesday: Vitamin D cardigan

Currently on my knitting needles is a Vitamin D cardigan made with leftover yarn from a previous project. I wear cardigans a lot, but it’s quite difficult to find knitting patterns for simple, modern and basic garments that aren’t too bulky. I had decided against Vitamin D a while ago because I found the fronts a little fussy for my taste.

However, I fell in love with D Minus, which leaves off the short rows at the front, leaving a cardigan that is much more to my taste.

I was waiting to finish the body of my Orza to free up my 3.5mm tips, which has now happened. I haven’t got very far yet. I probably won’t make two back-to-back top-down raglan tops again as the beginning part is so laborious. I’m working on the increase rows around the shoulders currently, and each row is taking at least 20 minutes. But I’m very hopeful that the finished item will be worth it.

And some more progress.

   
Still a long way to go!

 

I can’t knit in turquoise without thinking of peacocks. I just discovered that the park near my office has a whole flock (gaggle? What is the collective noun for peacocks?) of them wandering about.

The males get all the attention with those flashy fans, but check out the iridescence on this friendly female.

How to: Create a patchwork quilt guestbook for a wedding 1

Part 1: Before the wedding

Select fabric

Fabric for wedding guest quilt

Decide on quilt dimensions and design

Rachael and I discussed how she wanted to use the blanket (for sofa snuggling purposes) and we decided on the final size- 150x120cm- from there. I thought that 15cm squares would give a nice size for people to decorate without being so small that I would go mad sewing them all together.

Cut out squares

Cut fabric using a rotary cutter

Using a rotary cutter, ruler or steel rule and self-healing cutting mat makes this task much easier.

Patterned fabric squares for quilt

Boom

Choose what kind of pens to use

I wasted a lot of time on line researching the best brand of fabric pen. I bought a pack of coloured markers from Amazon based on the reviews, but found that they bled on the fabric more than I would have been comfortable with.

The fabric pens I didn't use

In hindsight it doesn’t look too bad but I remember being unhappy at the time.

I started going into art supply shops. Yes, I am so dependent on the internet that I go on Amazon before nipping to the high street. I have bought GLUE on Amazon before. IRL I quickly found these fabric pens that gave a finish that I was much more pleased with. I bought ten- five of each colour- but three of each probably would have done. Pro tip: If you leave the pens sealed and keep the receipt, you can return them after the wedding.

I would advise going with 2-3 colours with fabric pens as I think it would be very easy to get a busy or messy look with more.

Fabric pens

Prepare idiot-proof guidelines

People may not read them, but at least you’ll know you tried!

Square instructions

The next post will discuss what you need to do on the day of the wedding.


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