Monthly Archives: May 2012

clothing diary

I’ve already outlined the first few days of wearing scarves/cowls. Here’s the rest of how I managed to wear me-made during May, although not to any great extent, certainly rarely with anything approaching styling and equally certainly with much repetition; to the point of boredom, really!

Saturday, 5/5: Triangular neck warmer with weekend clothes.

Sunday, 6/5: Green and blue scarf, with blue jumper over white T-shirt, blue trousers and green jacket. You’d think I must have been going somewhere to get that dressed up, and so I was. Youngest Aunt and I attended a matinee performance of The Merry Widow, which we thoroughly enjoyed. And on the subject of me-made, Youngest Aunt was wearing a little knitted scarf that I made for her birthday the year before last.

Monday, 7/5:The same green and blue scarf with black jacket and trousers (for work)

Tuesday, 8/5: A by-design casual day at home/out and about, which was unexpectedly warm; so the dodgy Portia top with blue trousers and cardigan fitted the bill no probs.

Wednesday, 9/5: Once again, the blue/green scarf with grey trousers and houndstooth/grey jacket. OK for court; and sorry about the poor photography, but you can see the scarf. I should add that I have a shorter scarf I made from the same fabric about four years ago and I wear that quite often during summer, as it’s short and more decorative than truly functional.

Blue-and-green scarf, a long version

Thursday,10/5: black and white scarf with black trousers, jacket and shoes, and white stretchy top. OK for court, though the matter didn’t proceed. Photographed on phone. Crappy pic, to be sure; I must have been feeling extraordinarily browned off when I took it! Changed to colourful scrappy crocheted Moebius when I came home (because I needed extra warmth).

OK, I match the decor. Can I go home now?

Friday, 11/5: I knew I’d be in court again and that the weather was meant to be slightly warm. I couldn’t decide what to wear but knew the choice would be between blue or blue of some shade with, well, I wasn’t quite sure what! It was blue trousers, once again with the blue/green scarf and the grey sports jacket.

Saturday, 12/5: At home, keeping warm while working in the sewing room for much of the day. Blue bootleg stretch trousers, blue polo-style top and cardigan with the scrappy, crocheted Moebius cowl.

Sunday, 13/5: As it was Mother’s Day and we were having cake and coffee with the nonni, I wore the triangular neckwarmer with yesterday’s trousers and the grey sports jacket. Yeah, I think I need some new clothes! I ended up putting on my old teal lattice jumper (very old; I knitted it in 1984) because I was simply cold and the made-for-me-by-my-Mum shawl, while lovely and warm, was too awkward for work.

Monday, 14/5: The eight-foot-long, knitted side-to-side, three-coloured, linen-stitch scarf, complete with tassels, made its first outing today. I rationalised that I couldn’t really give away something with mistakes in it but I’m sure I could have! Heck, I know the mistakes are there and I can’t see them (not without searching, anyway). I had several comments on how nice the scarf is and how thick and warm it looks. It’s certainly thick and it’s certainly warm, which was a great thing when I was walking home from the bus tonight. The colours are pretty and I took a photo on my phone to prove that I actually wore it. Not that I know how to get photos off the phone and onto my computer, but we’ll deal with that another day.

It really is a lovely thick and warm scarf, and my colleague loves it!

Tuesday, 15/5: So I gave away that scarf, although I wore it to work and out at lunchtime and had put it on to come home again when one of my colleagues, whose elderly mother is presently quite poorly, mentioned how nice it was and I thought, “Well, she’ll probably love it and the colours would suit her,” so I whipped it off and presented it to her, all 75 feet of it including mistakes, as I pointed out! That is, I pointed out that there were mistakes. I didn’t actually point out the mistakes, as I’d have had to have searched to find them. I can knit another such scarf and perhaps make it shorter and wider. Just not tonight, that’s all.

Tomorrow, then, I reckoned I’d be back to my old green scarf or the scrappy, crocheted Moebius cowl, as the weather was decidedly too cold for chiffon fabric scarves. Either that, or I’d have to knit all night and finish off my Stephanie shawlette, which is made with a lovely soft acrylic in a very pretty blue. I pulled it out of the knitting box to check its progress. No, it’s too short and I have to unpick some of what is there because of a very obvious mistake (if not two of them). The trouble is that, being of my own reckoning as it is, I haven’t written down what I was doing, so it might take me a little while to work out the pattern in any case. I keep miscounting the yarnovers, that’s the main problem. In any case, it was clearly not an option for work.

Wednesday, 16/5: It was the Moebius cowl to the fore today. The morning was unfriendly. Boy wore his blazer to school because he was so cold!

Not taken during Me-Made-May, but this is the original long Moebius cowl

Thursday, 17/5: Moebius cowl again (excuse my messy background in the above pic, but it’s better of the cowl than the one I took at work).

Friday, 18/5: A new crocheted Moebius cowl. Yeah, yeah, I know – but it took me only a couple of hours to make and it uses up scraps of yarn that aren’t enough to do anything serious with when looked at individually. Put together? Ah, that’s what scraps are for. Besides, the one I’d worn on Thursday had a pleasant enough aroma of massage oil (post physio appointment) but I didn’t want to be carrying that around with me. Plus, I needed something a bit fancier for an evening outing.

Mixing all sorts of bits of yarn into something warm

Saturday, 19/5: the new Moebius cowl. I was cold!

Sunday, 20/5: the new Moebius cowl again because I couldn’t be bothered looking for anything else. I washed the original.

Monday, 21/5: With the descent to winter weather, it’s hard to get enthused about anything other than woolly scarves or neck warmers. I wore the older Moebius cowl, which garnered compliments for its lovely colours.

Tuesday, 22/5: Variety – not! – with the newer Moebius cowl, which won accolades from a serious sewist colleague. She recently purchased a dress form to replace one that a so-called friend had broken, and remembers getting her new sewing machine back in the 1970s and feeling as excited about it as if she’d got a new motor car. I recognise that feeling. I shared it when my Mum’s new sewing machine arrived (and it promptly fell to Middle Aunt and me to start sewing on it). It’s the one I’m still using. Middle Aunt now has a newer one which she has used, in combination with her overlocker (purchased for her by Grandpa) to create clothes for all her children and herself quite a lot over the years. She does less sewing these days, being much too busy working and helping run the family business. We exchange notes occasionally, though.

Wednesday, 23/5: What possessed me I can’t say but I wore my little green/blue silky scarf with my grey sports jacket, blue trousers and long-sleeved T. Did I freeze? Only not quite but darn, it was close. Mind you, I had my older Moebius cowl with me as well as a balaclava! When Dr B and I ducked into the shops on our way home, I popped the cowl round my neck. The balaclava, however, I left in the bag. Its time will come. What’s really coming, I have to admit, is overcoat weather.

Thursday, 24/5: The black-and-white scarf garnered praise from my serious-sewist colleague today. But I had my Moebius cowl with me, the older, longer one. I needed it. Apparently today was our coldest May day in 25 years. It was darn chilly, I can’t argue with that. And work being particularly horrid, as it was, I appreciated the hot pack that the physio placed on my neck to help with all the stiffness and pain. It helped combat the cold too.

Friday, 25/5: Today I dragged out my big square of heavy crepe. It’s not really square and I’m not sure if it’s crepe but it’s a crepey style of fabric, to my eye. I’ve had it for a very long time. I bought the remnant well before Boy was thought of, and I would suppose I had something in mind for it at the time. History does not record what that might have been! I decided a few years ago to rescue it from obscurity by overlocking a rolled hem and calling it a big scarf. It’s good because it’s big and a reasonable weight, so I can almost make it double as a lightweight shawl. I like its autumn tonings.

Just what I needed in terms of weight

Saturday, 26/5: I wore the same scarf/shawl as yesterday, tucked into my old orange cardigan; not exactly a culture clash but not quite the same shades. It looked all right on a Skype call, anyway, so no complaints.

Sunday, 27/5: I just couldn’t be bothered today though I ended up with one of the cowls for a while late in the day when I suddenly became rather cold.

Monday, 28/5: Out came the shorter crocheted Moebius cowl again, though not all day.

Tuesday, 29/5: My old green garter-stitch scarf came out to play today. It’s something I knitted to occupy me while Boy was having swimming lessons when he was quite young. It’s functional and I like the colour though it really doesn’t look quite right with the duffel coat, which is a different sort of green! I didn’t take a photo and could only find one old photo where it sneaked into the shot but not in any meaningful way. So, you know, it’s just green and plain and long enough without being too long.

Wednesday, 30/5: Once again I wore the shorter crocheted Moebius cowl for most of the day

Thursday, 31/5: I was at home with a respiratory unwellness (I had to get out of bed and dress because I was coughing too much lying down, there is no justice in life I tell ya) and simply could not be bothered trying to find a me-made anything to wear. I washed two me-made beanies (they’re Dr B’s, though I’m thinking I might appropriate one now that mine has gone to Nonno and, really, Dr B doesn’t need two practically identical beanies – both dark red, knitted to the same broken-rib pattern – does he?), the triangular neck cosy and the shorter Moebius cowl, since I was at home and they needed a wash and the weather was almost cooperative, so maybe that counts?

I wasn’t an official participant, I know, and it’s probably true that dragging out some bit of me-made neckwear is not really a challenge, but I almost managed Me-Made-May. Were it a summer event, I could probably do it with tops (two Portia tops at least plus one or two others that are lurking about the place). I might have to make a more concerted effort in December, say, when I’d be in a with a chance of achieving more meaningful sewing and wearing things I already have in my wardrobe. Sure, I would once have breezed through May in handknits. But not any more. If you participated, how did you go?


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lavender bag tutorial

By popular demand (you know, a few people asked me), here’s a tutorial for the lazy lavender bags. Excuse the dodgy photography, I hope it gives you sufficient visual information for the whole thing to make sense.

You will need two squares of fabric – I’ve used 7 cm squares here – plus (in this case) a length of ribbon. I often use quite long ribbon so that there’s plenty of length for hanging but short ribbon is fine. Or you can make them without ribbon. If you want to do that, life will be even easier. And this is not going to make it hard, believe me.

Two squares of fabric plus a length of ribbon

Fold the ribbon in half and put it between the squares of fabric. Whatever way you want our ribbon to be – shiny side out, shiny side in – that’s how you should have it. I’ve made mine matte side facing in this example.

Put the ribbon between the squares of fabric, right sides facing

Pin on three sides: either side of the ribbon and the side where the ribbon aligns with the edge of the square. In other words, in the photo above, you’d put a pin on the left, a pin at the top and a pin at the right. Or not, if you’re fearless and confident. I don’t always pin mine if I’m using a nicely stable fabric. I find it’s helpful to do so when I’m using ribbon, even if it’s only on that side because the ribbon is sometimes harder to keep in place than the fabric.

Once you’ve pinned it, check hat the ribbon is free to move

There’s no reason why you can’t pin on any three sides you choose (I’ve done it myself sometimes by design, sometimes not), but it’s easier to turn through if you can just grab the ribbon and pull. Sew the sides you’ve pinned, using a 1 cm seam.

Sew, being sure to catch the ribbon in your seam

Depending on what fabric I’m using, I’ll either trim the corners with straight scissors or pinking shears. With this, which I think is a synthetic silk, I used pinking shears.

On a thicker fabric, I would probably trim all the seams

Turn the bag inside out and square up the corners. This is where the ribbon is useful because you can just stick your finger into the bag, grab the ribbon and pull. Then use your favourite squaring tool (I have a couple of paintbrushes whose handles are just right for the job) and make the corners as square as you can.

This size is large enough for turning to be quite easy even without ribbon

Then fill your bag with lavender or a mix of whatever you like. I couldn’t get a good photo while doing it that didn’t look like I was trying to choke the bag! I used about three heaped teaspoons of mix, which seems like a lot because it almost fills the bag and you’ll be thinking you’re not going to be able to get that under your presser foot.

You will. Tamp it down. I use an old chopstick to do so but you might prefer a paintbrush or a pencil. I’m not dictatorial about these things. Use whatever works for you. When you’ve tamped the mix, you’ll find you’ve a firmer bag and plenty of room for the next step, which is to make the pyramidal shape. You could sew it flat – that is, make it square, more like ravioli – if you want to, but I like the extra squoosh that goes with the pyramid.

You could make it square; if you do, you might want more mix


I like to use a pyramidal shape

PIn – again, this is optional and I don’t always do it; sometimes if I’m only making a couple, I might miss out pinning and go straight to sewing – then sew.

As you can see, there’s plenty of room for the presser foot

You’ll doubtless notice that my edges aren’t precisely aligned, but no matter. That will disappear in the next step, which is trimming across that bottom edge with pinking shears.

Pinking provides a quick and easy finish

Then, the next thing you know, you have a lavender bag.

There you have it, one pyramidal lavender bag with hanging ribbon

Now, wasn’t that easy? I don’t usually make 50 at a time which was the output last time. I’m far more likely to make two or three when I have a few minutes and that way when I need one to include in any fibre gift, I can just grab it from the box and pop it in with the gift.

Let me know if you have any questions. I’m sure I’ll be able to make up some sort of answer! Happy sewing, everyone.


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Posted by on May 27, 2012 in Sewing



knitting in the car

Today I was planning to knit a bit more of whatever I have on my travelling knitting. (It was not the fingerless gloves, as I still haven’t sorted out how to rectify the mistake; I suspect it’s going to mean unpicking and past experience of doing that with knitting in the round makes me wonder if there’s an easier option.) I cast on for a knitted Moebius cowl the other night, using leftover yarn that there’s not enough of to knit anything serious with and of which I don’t wish to buy more because although the yarn is soft the range of colours is limited. Also, I decided that it would be something that I could bundle up and take on the bus or anywhere else where I might want something to occupy me.

Today held motor car shuffles and a trip to the doctor, so I knew that there were two perfectly good opportunities for a spot of getting on with the job. I packed up the yarn and needles into my little calico bag and popped it on the back of the chair, alongside my handbag. Which is precisely where it stayed. So, no, there’s been no knitting in the car!


who needs hair dye?

Apparently I don’t, because my hair exactly matches my scarf. Or is it that my scarf exactly matches my hair? (You know the one I mean, the one I describe as black-and-white but isn’t quite.) The colleague who made that comment also commented, quite unasked for, that it’s a lovely scarf. Accolades on such an awful day as we were having today? Yes, they’re worthwhile.

You’re possibly wondering why I’m not busily knitting Youngest Uncle’s fingerless gloves? I’ve struck a problem with the pattern, which says one thing in one breath and directs you to do something else in the next. I’ll have a closer look at the Ravelry page to see if there are any corrections posted. Meanwhile, our weather has descended to wintry temperatures and I’m feeling a distinct need for my own fingerless mitts at work. Right. Better get off the computer and back to the knitting then!


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planning another outing

Providing just a touch of tissying-up

We’ve a cocktail party coming up that’s a rowing club fundraiser. We were at the first one and it has become an annual event, one that I usually attend even if Dr B does not. Last year it clashed with too many other school events for it to be viable that even I would be able to do the right thing. This year? I plan to go. I go to help in the kitchen, I should point out, but if somebody offers me a sip of their cocktail all I can say is that it would be rude to refuse.

So, what to wear? It’s the usual colour theme: black, white and grey/silver. I think I can manage that, even while washing dishes. It will be the usual black trousers and white top perhaps with the usual jacket, perhaps with a jersey cardigan. Time will tell. And of course I shall wear the black-and-white scarf I made to wear to the presentation dinner. It’s something that adds effortless flair to any outfit (I say, tongue firmly in cheek).

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Posted by on May 22, 2012 in Rowing, Sewing



only a bit late to the party

Well, actually, I think I missed it altogether! I know all the shouting and champagne happened a long time ago and we’ve cleaned the carpets and moved on since then, but I’ve only recently reached a stage where I can access my photos. So here is a record of what was my contribution to the great  Pyjama Party Sewalong:

Keeping my Boy warm

The part I like the best about them is the ribbon I used to indicate the back:

Love Chocolate

This is not in any way intended to indicate anything other than “not the front of the garment”. No other sorts of chocolate should be inferred.

How’s that for central precision?

The first photo I took to demonstrate how well I’d done with the central alignment was out of focus, so this one was taken more recently, in better light and with a different and better camera, hence the much colder colour. I think the earlier photos are perhaps closer to the real colour but it doesn’t matter. I did make the PJ bottoms and took photos and here they are.


Posted by on May 21, 2012 in Sewing


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lavender bags

Production line lavender bags

A few people have asked how I make the lavender bags. There’s nothing secret or patented about them, so I’ll try to put together a tutorial at some point. Not tonight, obviously, and perhaps not until after I’ve managed to finished proofing the textbook that’s occupying me significantly and certainly not until after I’ve finished Youngest Uncle’s fingerless gloves; but sometime.

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Posted by on May 17, 2012 in Sewing


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surfacing briefly

I haven’t done any more work on Youngest Uncle’s fingerless gloves. But I have spent a couple of days making  about three dozen lavender bags. I can tell you that’s quite a lot of work and although they didn’t really take two days, they did take a lot of hours. Because I was making a lot, I did it production-line style. I cut out squares from scraps of fabric to make three different sizes, then pinned them all before I so much as thought about what thread was in the bobbin.

Fifteen, those I made with hanging ribbons (a few long ribbons but mostly short), were large enough to be easy work: two 7 cm squares seamed on three sides, turned through, filled with my lavender mix then stitched across to make a pyramid and trimmed with pinking shears unless I’d used a piece of fabric with a selvedge, in which case I simply left the edge as it was. I packed up a few of those to give to Nonna with a bunch of chrysanthemums for her Mother’s Day present.

The others were smaller. Half a dozen or so I cut at a starting size of 6 cm square. That’s not too difficult to turn through and fill. The majority, however, were small. They started as 5 cm squares and once sewn, turning them through was just drudgery. I managed it with assistance from the post of my darning mushroom, but it was time consuming. I like the look of the results and it’s nice to have a good supply of them to hand for putting in with handmade fibre gifts but I won’t be hurrying to make more of those. You might ask why I made any that size. Quite simply, that was all I could cut from a significant number of the fabric scraps I used.

I’m still using Great Aunt’s scraps but they are by now mostly fairly small. All the same, they’re recognisable. I was struck by how spoilt we’d been as children, though I don’t suppose we realised it at the time. The First Communion dresses and Confirmation dresses that Great Aunt made were all white. No surprises there. What I had probably not appreciated was how cleverly she’d chosen fabrics with interesting textures: spotted voile, waffle-patterned voile, a waffle-style heavier cotton and a rather lovely linen-weave cotton. I’ve used scraps from all of them to make lavender bags. Great Aunt’s memory lives on.

And how have I been going with the Me-Made-May stuff, limited to accessories such as scarves and the like? Yes, I’ve managed it, but what it’s served to highlight is that I really do need some new clothes! Today, being Mother’s Day, I was for a while wearing a made-for-me-by-my-Mother shawl; but it was too awkward to work in so I swapped it for a woollen jumper I knitted a long time ago and which is now too small but well, you know, when it’s Sunday and it’s cold and you’re at home and nobody cares what you look like? Yeah, that’s when the old stuff really comes into its own. I’ll deconstruct my Me-Made-May in a later post. In the meanwhile, I’m about to start lining up Boy’s grey sweatshirt for the next lot of sewing.

I hope you’ve had a pleasant weekend and that you, too, have been able to bowl over a goodly amount of crafting. It’s such a great feeling, isn’t it?



going quiet

I’ve reached the point in Youngest Uncle’s fingerless gloves at which I need to concentrate, so I’m now unable to capitalise on the opportunities where I could knit and watch TV (which I don’t do very well at the best of times) or knit and read (an even worse combination; I’m either knitting or I’m reading). If I’m gone for a few days, you’ll understand that I’m just being a diligent crafter working hard to complete a project, not a lazy blogger about to be spoken to very sternly by the blogging police. Sometimes, going quiet is a better option than going quietly.

Before I go, however, I should comment on the Cleckheaton Country Tartan 8-ply yarn that I’m using. It’s wool but it’s machine washable and spin dryable. I know there are plenty of people who frown at that, believing that treated wool is somehow less worthy than untreated wool. As far as I’m concerned, ease of laundering is a powerful consideration. And the yarn is really very nice: it’s soft and the colour is interesting but serious enough for Youngest Uncle (he’s a scientist, after all). It should be just the ticket. All right, then, off I go to be a serious knitter.

If you’re crafting this weekend, I hope you’re making good progress too. See you on the other side of the concentrating, whether that’s between thumb and fingers or beyond them all I’ll have to wait and see.


Posted by on May 5, 2012 in Knitting


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yarning again



It’s so hard to get good models these days

Excuse the above photo, please. Like many bloggers I struggle to take photos of myself (I know about tripods; it’s the auto setting on the digital camera that defeats me and I don’t have long arms). It does, however, give you an idea of the neck warmer that was today’s me-made article of clothing. Believe me, photographed flat on a table it could be anything.

The neck-warmer is an affordable take – all right, dirt cheap because the yarn was out at clearance prices – on this pattern from the wonderful folk at Purl Soho. Of course I didn’t use the stipulated yarn. It sounds as if it would be to-die-for soft, but it is w-a-y beyond my budget. I used something soft that knitted up to a similar tension/gauge (sorry I can’t tell you any more detail; yarn and needle size were things I originally noted in my craft diary but I haven’t been able to retrieve that since the computer crash).

The problem I encounter with the finished product, pretty and soft though it is, might relate to the yarn I used. Then again, it might relate to the design. I can’t be entirely sure though my suspicion is that the called-for yarn would only minimise the problem, not eliminate it: the buttonhole stretches dreadfully and you end up with a misshapen object that doesn’t look as smart as it might. No matter. It IS soft and it IS pretty. It’s also warm. Because of the clever triangular shape, it’s a garment that would ideally accompany a high-buttoning jacket or coat. Today, my jacket didn’t meet that description, so I confess to having been somewhat chill around the bit of me that was below the neck warmer and above the fastening on my jacket.

In other yarn news, I’ve begun Youngest Uncle’s fingerless gloves. I’m making these and you can see a few problems already, no doubt! Youngest Uncle is not an adult female. He has large hands. I don’t have the right yarn. Again, no matter. I shall use the Cleckheaton Country Tartan 8 ply yarn that I bought for the purpose and keep the same size needles called for in the pattern. That should mean I get slightly larger gloves (which should, therefore, fit Youngest Uncle comfortably) but I don’t have to give myself headaches making too many alterations on the fly.

It’s possible I might want to make the cuffs and truncated fingers a shade longer, but those changes are easily made and tracked. It’s the pattern for doing the fingers that I needed help with. Some kind soul has already done it in an in-the-round design. Perfect. I don’t imagine I’ll finish the gloves this weekend but as the forecast is for chilly weather, knitting sounds like a very useful thing to be doing. What are you plans for the weekend? Knitting? Or something far more exciting? May it be an enjoyable one, whatever you’re up to.


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Posted by on May 4, 2012 in Knitting


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