A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

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.

WiP Wednesday: Aubergine Rainbow Sweater

I’ve been planning a project like this for a long time, since my early days of knitting. I mentioned a little of the pre-planning I did in this post. Funnily enough, the arrival of my expensive American yarn coincided with the week before the Olympics, so I’ve decided I’m going to enter the Ravellinics for the first time. This means taking a small break from my League sweater, but I actually started making excellent progress on that over the past few weeks, so that’s okay. Check my Instagram (@craftycrusader) if you want to see what I’ve been up to.

The Ravellinics are the knitter’s version of the Olympics, where you are supported by the knitting community to challenge yourself and complete a project within the timeframe of the Games.

I’m quite looking forward to working on my Breton sweater while some of my favourite athletes do their thing. Like most people, I only care about athletics once every four years, but I am looking forward to the tennis. I managed to get some tickets in the ballot at London 2012 and it was awesome.

Anyway, before the opening ceremony, all I was allowed to do was swatch. My gauge came out pretty close to the pattern gauge and I couldn’t be bothered to swatch again with different needles. After blocking, the fabric came out nice and drapey so I was ready to cast on at midnight local time.

At five days into the Olympics, I am making good progress on this top-down knit. Since one of my 3.5mm needle tips broke, I’m having to improvise with different needles until the replacement arrives.

This is the top back of the sweater, the first part to be constructed. I’ve picked up stitches for the front on the two needles at the top in this picture. I then knit down and cast on stitches in the middle to join the fronts.

This is what it looks like on at this stage. Still a long way to go!

I have to admit that this shirt choice was deliberate. My aunt has some sexist builders working in her garden at the moment, and the shirt indicates the response that any further misogynistic remarks will get.

Pattern: Better Breton

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

Ravelry project page

 

Pointless handmade items

On a bit of a whim, my friend Cayleigh and I applied for the daytime game show Pointless, auditioned, and actually got offered a filming date! One of my first thoughts was that this would provide a fun opportunity for me to showcase some of my favourite handmade items, and add to my series on styling self-made clothing.

Here are my outfits, in my order of preference for wearing them. They asked us to provide five sets of clothing in addition to what we wore.

1. Paper Totoros

My first outfit shows off the handmade item of which I am most proud- my Paper Tototos sweater. I absolutely love this jumper, and I’ll be pairing it with a simple black mini skirt that lets my top half speak for itself.

This is the outfit I wore so I’ll update the post with a screenshot when the show is aired when I’m about 40.

2. Triple D Dress

My second outfit is the sewn item of which I am most proud. My denim day dress is far from perfect, but I am still very proud of it as the first dress I made without any help, and I think it looks nice. I’m planning to wear it with my me-made Little Wave cardigan.


3. Waterlily

My third outfit will be this lovely knitted top. I’m not decided yet on whether I’ll wear anything underneath- a cardigan is ruled out as it would hide the lovely lace on the sleeves.


4. Octopus Garden Dress

My fourth outfit will be this version of a Sew Over It Betty dress in octopus print cotton. I think I’ll wear it with a long-sleeved top underneath.

5. Orza

My fifth outfit will be a bit more casual. My Orza sweater, either with my handmade trousers, or the jeans that I repaired recently.

6. Cateralls

My final outfit will be my Cateralls. I think the BBC looks for quite conservative outfits, so I doubt they will want me in these, but I’ll take them along anyway. I’ll probably wear them with a striped top underneath.

WiP Wednesday 2: League

After a few months of relative stagnation, I’ve found myself wanting to work on knitting my League jumper and I’ve now managed to complete the front and back, and start the first sleeve.


Check out my new project bag. I loves it. 

I’m pleased with the progress I’ve managed to make on this project, but I am a little apprehensive about the colours I chose. Basically I had my heart set on Titus and ordered the yarn from the website. I wasn’t 100% sure about the teal colour but started anyway as I was so excited about the project. However, the colours aren’t quite as I had in my head. I think that white would pop better than the cream I have as my accent colour. And the teal. I’m just not sure.


I’m way too far into this project to stop now, but this is a lesson to me. I HAVE to stop ordering yarn online without seeing it first. Finding a stockist and going to the store to look at colours takes time, but from now on it will be an integral part of my process.

Yarn: Titus by Baa Ram Ewe

Pattern: League

Ravelry project page

Blueberry muffins

We who run according to the academic calendar are limping towards the end of the year with relief and exhaustion in equal measure. This means a few celebrations are in order, and I decided to bake for my team. I wanted a fairly simple recipe and decided on muffins. I had a chocolate and cream cheese recipe that I’ve had pinned for a while in mind, but then my uncle requested blueberry and I decided to go with that.

I’ve never made blueberry muffins before so I just googled a recipe and this one was very well reviewed. I made no changes except being very generous with the fruit. I used £5 of blueberries in 14 muffins. That’s the equivalent of nearly $1! I think it would also be wonderful with fresh blackberries.

Blueberry muffins

I found the sponge a little dry. Although it was hard to notice because of the juicy fruit, I might try a recipe with buttermilk next time.

I should have filled the liners up more (I got three extra cupcakes from the mix) but I was scared they would overflow. I needn’t have worried.

I choose to believe it was the delicate scent of freshly baked muffins that enticed an exotic visitor to join our party.


Though he seemed more interested in eating our excess strawberries.


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