Category Archives: Reading

did I make it or not?

Firstly, happy new year. Personally, I hope 2014 is a better year than 2013 turned out to be but whatever it holds, I’ve no doubt at all that there’ll be more plans made and never fulfilled. I mean, for example, I’m already a year down with my plan to knit YoungB’s cabled jumper and I haven’t yet begun it! (That leaves me two years in hand, I tell myself. Bags of time, absolutely bags.)

Wrapping up with 2013 Sewlutions: if I put the Yalta top as a success and something I could or even would wear to work – and the answer to both of those is yes, since I would never be without at least a short-sleeve jacket in any paid employment, which would certainly hide a multitude of sins – then I came in as a completion. Since my original brief was something like that, perhaps I got there in time. (Excuse the poor picture, I was being lazy about the tripod; and I deliberately didn’t include my face since it’s presently suffering an horrific outbreak of cold sores.)

Wearable and respectable and a vast improvement on my old, faded tops. But is it acceptable to the Mistress?

Wearable and respectable and a vast improvement on my old, faded tops. But is it acceptable to the Mistress?

If, however, we take the view that my main purpose was to use that lovely piece of rayon to make a nice top? No, I failed quite dismally. I could have sat up late on New year’s Eve and done a terribly botched job simply to make the deadline (although, being among the earliest to greet the New Year, I’d have had hours in hand, that’s not actually an option when you know your day is already spoken for). But that’s part of the deal, too: I wanted to do a good job. For once I wanted to have all the seams finished nicely and the neckline tidy and the hems straight. In that case, the Yalta top doesn’t fit the bill either, since I made it in such a rush that there are bodgy bits of finishing. It’s perfectly wearable, just not brilliant.

Also – because on New Year’s Eve I was tired to the point where I couldn’t keep my eyes open even to read a book (rare, but it happens) I went to bed and was so soundly asleep that I didn’t hear Dr B and Eldest Aunt come home from the beachside fireworks display – I didn’t blog about my failure or read Karen’s post on the appointed day. I’ve since headed over to do that, sure she’d have pulled another rabbit out of the hat; and, you know, of course she had! But I had a feeling there’d be others who might also be in that grey area of not knowing quite whether to claim a success or a miserable failure and probably quite a few who didn’t manage to meet either the Sewlution or the deadline. That’s proved to be the case.

In a bigger picture way, I’m quite sure that my muddled output was a product of my muddled year. I did manage to knit a reasonable amount – 14 completed items, if my record on Ravelry is accurate, as well as two cardigans that are frogged or still WIPs, a care shawl that’s also still on the needles and the Noro Silk Garden scarf that’s growing slowly – but my sewing was less productive. I mended a lot of things, though I always think of that as rescuing them otherwise I probably wouldn’t do it! But let’s see, what did I make? A bandanna, quite a few lavender bags, several totes of varying descriptions, a little clutch I didn’t blog about but use all the time and three aprons as well as the galactic Yalta top. Not a large output, I think you’d have to agree. Perhaps this year I’ll manage to get that sewing room back to a better state of usefulness and improve my output.

So I remain uncertain as to the answer to my question but perhaps, if the Mistress is in a good mood, She might reckon I managed to meet the goal of making a top suitable for work. Otherwise I’m in for a terrible time. I hope you’re not also quaking in your boots!


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Posted by on January 2, 2014 in Knitting, Reading, Sewing


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sew I was planning to write something

I intended to do a review (of sorts, or maybe I mean an overview) of some of my sewing books. But, excuse me, I’m far too tired. It’s been a long, busy day and if this comes out coherently I’ll be very pleased!

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Posted by on August 15, 2012 in Reading, Sewing


perspective on a small room

By many standards my sewing room is small. But, heck, although it’s really a multifunctional space, I do have a sewing room! There are lots of good things about it. It might be messy (it is, sometimes more than others) but it has a table, bookshelves, a desk, two wardrobes, some sets of drawers and some industrial shelving. There’s a chair (not on wheels, but a chair) and a heater.

There’s always something happening here. Industrial shelving is to the left of the table

The purists would say the table is too small for easy cutting out of patterns and/or fabric and I suspect that’s true, but it’s a lot bigger than a card table, cleaner than the floor and cutting out at the table is much kinder to my ageing knees than doing it on the floor. The bookshelves are where reference books, knitting patterns and paper dressmaking patterns are filed, the box of dried lavender mix lives and some boxes with FOs as well, plus my containers of knitting needles and crochet hooks have a space on top of the shelves.

The desk used to be Dr B’s computer desk. Nowadays it’s an extra space for things I don’t need for the project I’m undertaking (I might put my tins of scissors and cutters on the desk if I’m doing something that doesn’t need them). It’s also a good place to put whichever machine – sewing machine or overlocker – is not being used for any sewing. I tend to keep the sewing machine on the table pretty much all the time because I’m likely to use it for small tasks more frequently than I’ll use the overlocker. Having the other machine on the desk means I can maximise space on the table. Also, I can have a reference book open on the desk should I need to do so.

The wardrobes are both used as linen presses (sure, it’s a sewing room but the house has no linen presses and it would be greedy of me as well as silly to insist that the linen goes somewhere else when there is nowhere else) but there’s also a certain amount of stash and paperwork in the drawers, not to mention my two irons. It’s safer for them not to be on the ironing board unless they’re actually being used. They fall off far too easily and that can’t be good for them. The sets of drawers contain fabric scraps, rowing programs and results, ribbons, zips, bias tape, velcro and things of that nature, as well as tools for applying pop studs and punching holes in things (to mention only a few of the knick-knacks). I’d say a lot of them come under the heading generally of – what’s that wonderful word? ah, yes – notions.

The industrial shelving was my present to myself some years ago when Dr B was away and I was trying desperately to create some sort of order out of the chaos (back then, I had just one small wardrobe which was our only linen press, so storing anything else was difficult). I marched out to the shed and raided Dr B’s supplies then had a wonderful day bolting things together and making sure the shelves were square (as in plumb; I remember that Boy looked at me a bit strangely when I wanted him to admire how square they were because, well, they’re rectangular). There are bags of scrap fabric and just loose fabric as well as baskets of stuffing for toys. I covered it all with a cheerful, jolly curtain that I hung on a piece of piping. Not technically brilliant but, you know, it worked. Of course there are other things on the shelves, such as cameras and tripods and boxes of photos. But at least they’re on the shelves, not the floor and they’re behind a curtain.
My chair is an old wooden one that Youngest Aunt used when she was at university, so it’s venerable. I made a slipcover that gives my legs better protection against a couple of rough spots that the original cushion didn’t quite cover. It works fine, too, even though I made it very hurriedly indeed. The little under-table heater – no, it’s nothing at all like a kotatsu, but it’s quiet, economical and effective – keeps my feet warm and if I were to close the door, it would take the edge off the room’s chilliness in winter.
There are some drawbacks. Because it is a multifunction room, there’s often a basket of laundry awaiting folding and the ironing board is occasionally used as an ironing board for things other than what I’m sewing (I know; but I haven’t quite given up on ironing shirts for special occasions). There are holes in the floor because of termites (yes, treatment now seems to be getting the better of the little beggars) so I have to be careful where I put my chair and where I stand but there’s a carpet that helps disguise the worst of the problem and, along with the heater, also keeps my feet warm. There’s only one power point, which means I run a lot of powerboards and extension cords but I can tuck them out of harm’s way quite easily.

There are days when I think I’m hard done by because I have to side-step around the table and dodge several fold-up airing lines but, when I tell Boy or Dr B to put something in the sewing room (because sometimes it’s also where stuff gets stashed in a dash and stash cleanup because People are Coming To Dine With Us or something equally unusual), there’s no questioning where I mean. So, yes, it is small and yes, it could be tidier (sometimes it’s difficult to keep all my projects quite as neat as I’d like and when I have several on the go they tend to spread out) but really, all things considered, it’s pretty much mine. It’s taken a long time but it has been worth the wait. Even if I grumble a bit about the inconvenient bits, I actually have a relatively dedicated space for sewing. Aren’t I the lucky one?!

PS (on 23/7/12): Sorry, some of the formatting seems to have gone awry. I tried to fix it but it didn’t work!


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sometimes reading a book is better than knitting

I know that sounds a little like heresy but there’s a reason I say it. I was knitting Eldest Son’s scarf on the bus yesterday morning and I could see that something about it just wasn’t quite right. For the life of me, I couldn’t put my finger on what. The yarn wasn’t split or twisted but there was something that jarred on one edge. It wasn’t a bright morning and I was a bit cramped so couldn’t get a good look at what I was doing. Therefore, between that and being very tired, I only knitted a couple of rows then simply rested my eyes for the rest of the journey.

On the way home, the bus was too crowded for knitting. I was in an aisle seat and thought that, even with my wonderful short needles, I’d be risking a few dropped stitches if I knitted. Besides, I had a new book to read, so that’s what I did: enjoyed the first few chapters of Garth Nix and Sean Williams’  Troubletwisters: the Monster.

The problem was just a couple of reversed stitches

Once home, I spread my knitting out on the sewing table, stoked up my work lamp and easily spotted the source of my unease: I’d made  a mistake, somehow purling where I should have been knitting in a couple of spots. It was a good thing I hadn’t knitted lots of extra rows. As it was, I was able to drop my couple of stitches back a few rows and fix the problem quickly. I might not have been quite so cheerful if I’d carried on knitting regardless of my concern and then had to drop back a lot of rows. Reading is such a good thing!


Posted by on July 20, 2012 in Knitting, Reading


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