A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

WiP Wednesday: Ombré silk cami

Part of my bank holiday weekend was spent at Sew Over It Clapham at their silk camisole sewing class. I chose to make mine from some lovely blue ombré silk I bought on the Goldhawk Road. I wanted to learn how to work with silk, which has always seemed a daunting prospect.

I was between sizes so I decided to go a size down. My Betty dress, another SOI pattern, came out large all over, so I hoped I’d be safe. I was also very tight on fabric because using an ombré limited where I could cut out my pattern pieces. This is something I need to remember if working with an ombré fabric again.


This pattern introduced me to French seams, which were actually easier than I thought. I got super focused while sewing, as usual, so I only managed a picture of the one on my facing. Also it’s a dodgy iPhone pic even though I took my camera along especially.


Due to the ombré problem, you can see that my facings and main fabric ended up totally different colours. Here they are showcased again in this understitching pic.


It all seemed to be going so smoothly. I should have heard the alarm bells ringing.


Cliffhanger.

Will our intrepid hero end up with a wearable top?

Will her nemesis, Professor Perfectionism, turn up to rain on her parade?

Will she poke herself with that unpicker?

Find out next time in the continuing adventures of the Crafty Crusader!

Falafel Scotch Eggs

I had a little cooking time last week, so I decided to try a recipe from the healthylicious food blog. At the moment I’m trying to watch what I eat for health and vanity reasons. According to the food tracking app I use, I don’t eat enough protein so I’ve also been trying to up my protein intake. I am a meat eater, but I seldom cook meat because it’s too much hassle. Although this is a vegetarian recipe (if you don’t wrap the eggs in prosciutto like I did), it’s pretty high in protein because of the eggs and chickpeas.

The recipe is available in full here. I didn’t make any changes apart from increasing it by 50% and swapping out some of the spices and herbs for what I had at home. I used mint instead of parsley, and paprika instead of cayenne pepper. I also used dried chickpeas rather than tinned. Oh, and I wrapped the eggs in slice of prosciutto before adding the falafel mixture. And added some sesame seeds to the breadcrumb coating. Hm, guess I made more changes than I thought!

While I did like this recipe, I would probably only make it again for a picnic or something. I need a more basic summer lunch recipe that’s closer to 30mins prep than a couple of hours. I think these would be nice with quails’ eggs too.


I would say these eggs are equally nice hot or cold. If I made them again, I would try reducing the boiling time of the eggs even more (I put the eggs into cold water, brought to the boil, turned off the heat and left in a covered pan for five minutes) to try and get a softer egg yolk. However, this would be even more of a terrifying roulette where you could end up with albumen all over your countertops. Cooking really is a pursuit only for the most extreme adrenaline junkie.

I served my eggs with a spinach, rocket, tomato and avocado salad. I also had a few tablespoons of my apple chutney to make it less dry. It would also be nice with some flavoured hummus, or beetroot dip to avoid chickpea overload.

WiP Wednesday: Technicolour Dream Skirt

This is my first attempt at the Pencil Skirt pattern by Sew Over It. I actually started it several months ago, but I had a very frustrating day of sewing and so it’s been languishing on the naughty step since then. I think the problem was that I had in my mind that I would finish the skirt in a single session, and I got really annoyed at myself when I couldn’t.

I had a vague thought of making a matching jacket, but this fabric frays easily and is a little tricky to work with, so I’m pretty sure that I will be abandoning that particular harebrained scheme.

I’m halfway through the zip insertion at the moment. Hoping to finish the skirt soon as it would be a nice spring work garment.

Pattern: Pencil Skirt from Sew Over It

Fabric: Joseph Boucle, also from SOI

FO Friday: Triple D Dress 

This week I am featuring a project I am happy with. Yay! My denim day dress has turned out pretty spot on.


I especially love the pockets.


After the last post, I spent four more solid hours working on her.

Finishing the zip installation (slightly wonky).

Easing the in the sleeves. So many pins!

Trying to see if they are in the right way.

Sewing the side seams and finally testing the fit.

Finishing.

The biggest difficulty I had was with trying to swap the facings for bias binding. The binding wouldn’t lie flat.

I followed a tutorial to try and fix the binding. It only partially worked. My feeling is that I can’t have the binding visible, so I will probably try and fix it again next time I have access to a sewing machine. However, the dress is still wearable in the interim so I’m not too fussed.

I have two more versions of this dress planned. For one, I am going to use my purple Indonesian silk for the skirt.

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I am going to buy a small amount of silk in a contrast colour for the bodice and sleeves, as I think a dress totally in the pattern would be a bit overwhelming. I also have some cream rayon Batik for another version.

The only change I will make will be to grade down to the size below at the waist. The sizing is about right at the bust and shoulders, but a bit baggy at the waist. I will probably do another exposed zip for the Batik dress, but try an invisible zip for the silk one. I will have to get better at matching the waist seams!

FO Friday: Mermaid Michelada 

I finally managed to finish this mammoth project a couple of weeks ago. And I hate it. It’s my first UGH! on Ravelry and it feels like a cruel April fools joke played by the knitting gods.

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I’ve got to say that blocking this sweater was an absolute nightmare. The second the fabric got wet, it just stretched like crazy. I think part of the problem is that the pattern directs you to make a moss stitch swatch  that gives no indication of how the final fabric will behave. I say, ignore the pattern instructions and swatch the whole stitch pattern to avoid this problem.

I left the damp top to dry on a fan heater (I don’t have a tumble drier), which seemed to shrink it down a bit. However, as soon as I put it on, it stretched out again.

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Here’s how it was fitting before blocking.

Hideous quality pic but it demonstrates my point. Pre-blocking, the fit was pretty spot on. I block almost religiously, but this experience is making me question that habit.

It’s so frustrating to spend hours making something, then end up with a product that is unwearable. I feel this project was a little doomed from the start when I hated the colour of the yarn, which was totally different to the pictures I saw on the website. I may try one more time to shrink it if I ever get a chance to use a tumble dryer. Otherwise I will just give it away so I can forget about it. In moments of drama, which have been more frequent than usual lately, I have nearly chucked it in the bin.

Again, this making experience is an example of art (craft) reflecting life.

Craft can be a cruel mistress.

Pattern: Michelada

Yarn: Kettle Yarn Co Westminster in Mermaid

Ravelry project page

WiP Wednesday II: Triple D

I spent several hours yesterday working on my Avid Seamstress day dress in denim. This is a fairly challenging pattern for me so I’ve still got a lot to do. I went in just with a pile of flat pieces of fabric

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And I came out with something that is basically recognisable as the back of a dress.

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I’m currently in the middle of installing the exposed zipper. I’m following the same tutorial I used for my feather skirt. I think it’s going okay. I’m going to baste it before my next sewing afternoon.

I used a new technique of gathering the fabric using elastic. I had to redo it once because it was uneven. I managed to gather the denim more easily the second time, but accidentally sewed it to the incorrect side. I’m going to leave it because I don’t think it’ll make any difference to the final dress.

I read somewhere that some craftswomen leave errors in their work as a reminder that only God is perfect. I’ll leave mine as a reminder that perfection is an illusion that engenders dissatisfaction.

Pattern: Day Dress by The Avid Seamstress

Fabric: Some denim

Will-it-ever-end Wednesday 

If you believe in psychodynamic ideas, you believe that many aspects of a person’s life can reflect their inner conflicts. Sometimes it strikes me that my approach to craft reflects what’s going on in the rest of my life. Last year, knitting was often a form of escape for me. Having finally finished my doctorate, I sought a sense of achievement from completing highly complex and technical knits, which were also a way for me to avoid other aspects of my life that I find stressful and distasteful. Some people bury their head in the sand. I bury mine in five skeins of the finest cashmere and alpaca blend.

I had some unexpected knitting time a couple of weekends ago and I noticed a common theme in my works-in-progress. I am currently in the middle of:

Michelada

A crocheted basket

League

At the moment, all of these projects seem like they’ll never end. All of them have been on the needles or hook for a while, not seeming to get nearer completion. I’m not feeling hugely satisfied with any of them. Especially with the sweaters, I’m not even sure if I like the colours.

Many of the questions that I have about my knitting projects could also be asked about my life. Will the finished project resemble what I hoped it would? Will I be happy with it? Am I rushing through the process, not really enjoying it, focusing too much on the outcome? It can be difficult to be at the wrong end of your twenties and still uncertain about whether you’re on the correct path in life.

For the time being in life, to borrow an unbelievably overused phrase, it’s a case of keep calm and carry on. In craft, I must keep calm and carry yarn.


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