A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

WiP Wednesday: Magical Unicorn vest

Fortunately everything does seem to have gone okay with my move, and I’m getting settled into a little house, for the first time, south of the river (Thames, for any curious non-British readers).

I did the cutting out before I had actually bought my sewing machine. This now brings the tally of projects I have cut out but not started to three. Think I had better actually sew something before I cut anything else out. This Japanese double gauze was pretty expensive, so I decided to take a risk and buy only 1.25m, and I’m very glad that I did! I was able to squeak all of the pieces out, with very little stress. If you’re looking at this post to see how much fabric you need to buy for a Silk Cami, please note that buying a smaller amount will only work for non-directional prints. If you’re using a directional print, you should probably stick with the amount of fabric stated in the pattern.

At the rather disastrous Intro to Drapey Fabrics workshop at SOI, the instructor kindly gave me a modified pattern to take away. In every other SOI pattern I have used, I have been a size 10 despite my measurements often being very different to those stated. In general, I always wear a size 10 in RTW clothing too. So I felt fairly confident cutting the 12 in the Silk Cami. This was a big mistake, and the finished garment really pulls across the chest, which is why I have never worn it.

Anyway, I didn’t really look before I started cutting (this could prove costly) but the pattern I now have is basically the 12 in the shoulders, with the 14 measurements in the sides. Fingers crossed it will fit!

Pattern: Silk Cami by Sew Over It

Fabric: 1.25m Japanese double gauze from Fondant Fabrics

WiP Wednesday: Lurid stripes socks

My Xmas-loving aunt requested another pair of socks for my uncle this year. I have a feeling she asked me last year as well, but I never got around to making them. My uncle is a slightly grumpy Scottish guy (note: I like grumpy people, I think they’re funny) but I think he quite likes having really bright socks hidden beneath his dull work uniform. I’m sure there’s a metaphor in there somewhere. For this year’s ocular assault, I decided to dive into my stash rather than buying a new ball of sock yarn. I’m using leftovers from my various skeins of Stray Cat Sock yarn.

I’ve just been going with my gut with the colour progression. I’m not sure this was the best idea as I feel my colour selections have been a bit off all year. I hadn’t realised that the tone or warmth of the four balls of yarn is quite different. I’m still going to keep going as I don’t think this will bother my uncle.


Making a sock seems so quick after months of working on fingering weight jumpers. I’m really enjoying this project at the moment.

Pattern: Vanilla Latte Socks (FREE on Ravelry)

Yarn: Stray Cat Sock yarn, various colourways

Needles: 2.75mm

Ravelry project page

WiP Wednesday: Aubergine Rainbows

So I learnt that it wasn’t possible for me to knit a fingering weight jumper in sixteen days while working full-time. However, it did take me less than a month to make this sweater, which is pretty quick actually. Despite my initial anxiety about how the colours were looking, I’m pretty pleased with how it’s looking.

The only real point of stress for me was the cast off. The pattern calls for an ordinary cast off in pattern, but having made some more advanced patterns lately, plus hearing some of my most respected bloggers denounce casting off in pattern, I wondered if I should go for something a little more polished.

I finished my body and first sleeve when I still thought I might complete this project before the end of the Olympics, so I did an ordinary cast off partially for speed. However, on the second sleeve I decided to give the tubular cast off a go, adding a green lifeline to the end of the ribbing for safety.

You can’t really see in the pic, but the tubular CO is too tight. Although I can get the sweater on and off, it would restrict my ability to push the sleeves up.

I re-did the set-up rows on larger needles to try again, but managed to drop a stitch, meaning ripping back again. At this point I became pretty frustrated, so it was good to be able to take a break and work on seaming my League jumper instead.

There were also quite a few ends to weave in, though I carried the purple yarn and contrast yarn for same-colour stripes to reduce the ends a little bit.

Pattern: Better Breton

Yarn: Squoosh FiberArts Merino Cashmere Sock in Eggplant, and The Lemonade Shop mini skeins

Ravelry project page

WiP Wednesday 3: League

I’m hoping this will be the last work-in-progress post for my League jumper. I was really chugging away on this project until the Ravellinics came along and I switched almost exclusively to my Aubergine Rainbows sweater. In my previous post, I had just started working on my first sleeve.


In my mind, each sleeve would take around the same time as the front or back, but fortunately this was not the case and the sleeves went much more quickly.


As well as working on my sleeves, I decided to block the body pieces before attempting any seaming. I can’t say that blocking is my favourite part of the knitting progress, but I did find the smoothing of fabric quite meditative this time. As I think I have mentioned before, somehow my row gauge for this project is way off and I didn’t notice until I had nearly finished the front piece. I decided to continue regardless, so during the blocking I focused on trying to block the pieces to the measurements on the schematic.

I also blocked the sleeves in the same way, but unfortunately all the pictures I took came out too blurry for the blog.

The seaming is super challenging because you are seaming highly visible parts of the sweater, which means you really have to aim for perfection. I spent a solid 2.5 hours sewing while watching Days of Future Past (don’t you dare judge), and I only managed to join one sleeve at the shoulder. That’s probably about 30cm.

I wrote a few months ago about art (craft) reflecting life and I am seeing some parallels again. Seaming is the kind of activity where your conscious mind is pretty occupied, leaving the unconscious to roam free, making connections. Much like connecting the sleeves and body of a jumper. I’m hoping that after a year of uncertainty last year, things are starting to come together for me as I prepare to enter my thirties.

Seaming, when it goes well, is amazing. The two things you made become one thing that is more beautiful than the sum of its parts. Really it’s feminine magic.

Four pieces start to look like one garment. You can also see that I have picked up the stitches for the neckband in this pic. Not much more to go!

Yarn: Titus by Baa Ram Ewe

Pattern: League by Veronik Avery

Ravelry project page

FO Friday: Tiny Dancer Carrie Trousers

I’m happy to say that my second sewing session at Sew Over It went well, and I managed to come out with a pair of Carrie trousers  that I’m pretty pleased with.

Pocketses!


The first step this week was sewing the inside leg of each trouser leg, then the side seams.

Constructing the waistband was quite a lot of work. First stitching the two parts, then lots of precise folding and pressing.

One of the final steps was elasticating the back waistband, then testing the fit before stitching the elastic down and finishing the front waistband.

The last thing of all was the cuffs. I lengthened my trousers by a couple of inches but still had to do a tiny hem. The challenges of having long limbs! The only thing I didn’t have time to do during the workshop was finishing the cuff hems, so I hand-stitched them.

Pattern: Carrie Trousers by Sew Over It

Fabric: 2m Liberty tana lawn in Tiny Dancer print.

I would say it wouldn’t be possible to squeeze these trousers out of a smaller amount of fabric. So far I think tana lawn is a surprisingly good choice of fabric for these trousers. They’re not creasing too badly. Oh no, suddenly I can see lots of Liberty print trousers in my future…

I made the size 10 with no mods except lengthening the legs by about 3cm. I’m happy  with the fit and I think the slim leg helps these trousers to look quite smart. An advantage of the pattern is that the fit on the waist is easy to adjust using the length of your elastic. If I was to make them again, I would actually lengthen them even more.

WiP Wednesday: Dancers and Aubergines

Last Friday was the first session of my Carrie Trousers workshop at Sew Over It. It was a three hour workshop and most of it was spent cutting out, which is one of the stages of sewing I find most stressful. The pinning. The endless smoothing of fabric. The fear.

Managed to get a pile of pattern pieces without much fabric left over. I hadn’t realised before that this cotton lawn is pretty transparent so I will have to make careful underwear selections when wearing these.

The first step was constructing the pockets, which are the most important part of any pair of trousers. This stage was a lot more challenging than it should have been because there was something wrong with the sewing machine I was using. It kept making long stitches and the thread broke loads of times. My fabric is very fine so I don’t like unpicking as I’m scared of making holes. It wasn’t until I had to leave to catch my train that the instructor realised the bobbin thread had something wrong with it that had caused the problems.

I left feeling really frustrated as I’d hoped to get further, and very small things I tried to do had taken ages because I had to keep re-threading the machine. I wished the problem had been picked up on sooner.

Anyway, despite everything my pocket is looking pretty good and I’m hoping this week’s sewing will go much more smoothly.

I’ve also been continuing work on my Aubergine Rainbow sweater. Not long after my last post, I joined the front and back at the armpits and began working in the round, which made the knitting go a lot faster.

The stripes are also helping to keep up my motivation.

I’ve got to say I’m feeling relieved as the stripes progress. I was hating colours at first and worried that 2016 is just the year of bad yarn colour choices (far from the worst thing about 2016 but still). However, I’m liking it more with each additional colour and hopefully the sleeves will add to the effect. I just love the little speckles within the stripes.


So far the fit of the sweater is pretty good. It’s slightly tight, but the swatch relaxed a bit when I blocked it so I am imagining this will happen with the finished garment too.


Pattern: Better Breton

Yarn: Squoosh FiberArts Merino Cashmere Sock in Eggplant, and The Lemonade Shop mini skeins

Ravelry project page

Rice and peas and chicken

This week I cooked the food of my native land for the first time in several years. I made rice and peas and chicken, a staple of Jamaican cuisine, and I was pretty happy with how it turned out.


I can’t provide a recipe because, unlike almost every other kind of food, I never use one when I’m cooking Jamaican. For me, Caribbean food is all about eyeballing the spices, estimating measurements, and tasting as you go. I learnt how to cook Jamaican from my mother, to whom recipes are anathema. Cooking is a constant process of experimentation, fortunately mostly successful.

When it comes to foods that are not in my blood, I am very reliant on recipes. As a perfectionist, I can’t stand the idea that I could spend hours cooking and end up with something sub-par (though this has, of course, happened to me lots of times). With a recipe, if the food is bad, it means that the recipe was bad; I am not a bad cook. With Jamaican food, I can let myself take a risk a little more. I can focus on the process and not just the outcome. Each pot of rice I cook is unique.


The rice and peas wasn’t perfect, but then I did use tinned kidney beans (the peas) rather than dried. Using dried beans is what gives rice and peas its characteristic colour, but I couldn’t be bothered soaking peas for a midweek meal. I also couldn’t cook it in my Dutch pot, because that is currently being driven around Kent in the back of my aunt’s Vauxhall. Long story.