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Category Archives: Sewing

catching up

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Dr B is making excellent progress with his creative task!

Isn’t it good when you share a meal with friends, and are able to catch up on everyone’s news? I don’t do it as often as I’d like. The Bs have far more of a cafe lifestyle than I do, mostly by virtue of their cycle outings (of whichever variety). Yesterday it was my turn with some old friends from my nursing days. One is still in the business, nowadays working as a midwife in a busy city hospital. The other has already retired. We met for our meal at a halfway-point eatery, and between swapping news of former colleagues and hearing about the exploits of children and grandchildren, a couple of hours passed swiftly and pleasantly.

The friend who is still in the business doesn’t live far from me, so we travelled together. She’s another who knits and sews, and would like to learn crochet but is time poor now. A particular joy of our homeward trip was our quick duck into a fabric store, one where we’re both VIP members. It’s not far from home for either of us, so barely even a detour. She was looking for something she could use to refresh the old, tired, three-panelled privacy screens in her hospital’s nursery. We bought some lovely animal-print curtaining (in both colourways, to be used alternately so that one side presents taupe, cream, taupe and the other side cream, taupe, cream). It should sew up beautifully and look a treat.

The style of curtaining uses stretch wires at top and bottom. I have recent experience with that, because I made a small, privacy curtain for YoungB, so that he wouldn’t be constantly disturbed by a neighbour’s sensor light going berserk. I used some old furnishing fabric and put a wire only at the top. That was mostly for haste, but also because YoungB’s cabin presents problems when you try to screw things into its walls. So, although my crochet projects might not be completed, I have had a small sewing success.

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Curtain in a hurry, with some installation challenges unmet. However, YoungB loves it because it keeps out enough light that he can sleep. That’s all it needs to do.

When my friend drove me home, we checked the progress of the Bs’ building work: as the top photo illustrates, they’re going great guns (and they were both working on it yesterday). They did some catching up, too, in their case with a chippie friend who is our unofficial consultant (he has lots of good, sensible advice for safely working alone and will be getting a slab of his favourite tipple when the project is done). YoungB will shortly have a run of almost a week off, so he’ll be a great help with the roofing. They ought then to catch up sufficiently with the work that we might have a fully-roofed pergola by the end of next week. Bonus. And exciting-issimo.

As I implied, I’m not caught up on all my crochet WIPs. The green market bag needs handles, but I have to count stitches at least a little bit so that the handles are centrally located. I have, however, just about finished a knee-rug for work! Yet again, it’s made with some of that 8-ply (DK) synthetic green yarn gifted to me by a friend, and more of my variegated scraps, held double. So it really is thick and, this time, it really is quite small. I think my starting chain was about 60. It will work fine in the office, which is where I intend to use it. I will catch up with finishing all of the other small bits and pieces, but not while I’m watching TV. For me, because of my poor eyesight, that’s sometimes a little trickier than simply dealing with a piece of repeating-pattern crochet. I can manage, “One treble, one chain,” ad infinitum! The photo is somewhat dull, but I think you’ll get the idea: a quick and easy pattern that produces a lovely, squishy finish.

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Scrappy stashbusting stuff. And small, but enough to cover my knees so that I don’t get too cold at the office.

I hope you’re also catching up with your crafty projects, and old friends.

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sew, wine bottle carriers?

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Bourbon bauble. Image copyright the Grove.

In the past, I have generally not been too “Bah, humbug” about Christmas. Nowadays the comparison tends to be to the Grinch, but in my neck of the woods that’s an alcoholic cocktail. In the interests of full disclosure, I advise that it’s currently the cocktail jug of the week at my local pub. I know that because I was there with YoungB the other night, having an after-work cocktail. We drank bourbon baubles (see image), whose main note is ginger, but the green looked appealing and equally refreshing. I’ll stick to Ebenezer Scrooge as my comparator, lest I confuse myself.

In any case, cocktails aside, what I’m trying to say is that in the past I have made a lot of effort not to be Scrooge. This year? OMG. It’s all too much. We have had an insanely busy year at work and there’s no end in sight, although we’ll down tools at the end of next week and not have to pick them up again for a fortnight. Now, if I could simply sleep for that fortnight, I might face 2019 with more equanimity than seems presently possible.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have had a round of workplace Christmas lunches that have been pleasant breaks from the office. But if you’re out having a good time, you’re not doing the urgent paperwork, even though you’re actually working. it’s a conundrum.

So, sewing? I wanted to make some shopping totes for various family members – that would be those for whom I haven’t crocheted anything – but, you won’t be surprised to hear, I have decided that wine bottle carriers are half the size and – being unlined in the version we use – considerably less effort. Dig out the owl hessian (burlap if that’s more meaningful) and stoke up a jug of green cocktail liquid: there has to be some sewing time in there somewhere!

Oh, I’m sure you’re all much better organised. But just in case you’re not, let me wish you good luck with all your making 🙂

 

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2018 in Crochet, Sewing

 

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loving it all

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I’ve been carting that sage-coloured cotton yarn around the country since 1993, so it was hugely satisfying to hand-wind one of the 200g skeins and start using it immediately

Forty-or-so years ago, my Mum knitted me a beautiful wrap. I still wear it. Yes, it has a hole or two in it now, which I’ve mended. The holes don’t matter. The wrap still keeps me warm and it’s like a hug from Mum every time I put it on, although she has been dead for a very long time. It had an outing a few weeks ago to a concert in the Hills, not far from the town where Mum grew up. I thought that was appropriate. And it did indeed keep me toasty warm throughout the, er, bracing evening temperatures.

Now that our evening temperatures are (finally) beginning to lose that refreshing edge and approach the sort of balminess you’d expect , or at least hope for, at this time of year, and with You Know What looming on the ever-nearing horizon, my own “wrapped in a hug” handiwork is tending more towards utilitarian things like reusable shopping bags of varying sizes and construction, as well as tissue-holders for those dinky handbag packs that are often a lifesaver during hay-fever season. I’m making good progress with using those hand-wound balls of cotton yarn. It’s a good feeling in every respect.

May your seasonal yarny work be equally satisfying 🙂

 

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2018 in Crochet, Knitting, Sewing

 

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getting another run

Wedding bunting

A bit wrinkled after more than two years in storage, but still looking fabulously festive 🙂

Middle Niece was married on Friday. The reception was held at her parents’ house, under a marquee on the back lawn. Among the decorations? The photo is a little blurry – phone cameras have their limitations, after all – but I’m sure you’ll get the general idea. It was lovely to see the made-by-me bunting adorning another celebration. This space was smaller than the previous one, with a steeper ceiling pitch, so the bunting appeared much denser and it certainly draped differently.

On the subject of matters crafty, I’m still knitting the scrappy scarf or shawl. It’s making progress. I’ve decided to embrace the knot. There seem to be many in the yarn I’m using and there’s a limit to my patience for dealing with them. My theory is that you’d be hard pushed to notice the occasional bump when the scarf is tucked under a coat collar, as is likely to be its final destination.

Also, I’ve booked to attend a beginners’ weaving course. It’s being held near the town where I grew up, so Dr B and YoungB will cycle the Riesling Trail (more info) while I learn all about looms, weft and warp and other wondrous new terms.

Whatever you’ve been doing, I hope your plans are all turning out exactly as you’d expected. Mine never do; but I hope yours are!

 

 

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then, before you can say Jack Robinson…

…or knife, or whatever your favourite similar expression might be, it’s February! OK, there are two days remaining in January, to be technical and pedantic. But they’ll be gone before – see above.

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This year already feels a bit as if that excavator has had a go at it! Photo taken late last century. Dr B on the left wearing that wondrous jumper I knitted for him 🙂

Life has been hectic and full of small and not-so-small sideswipes that seem hideously unfair in many instances but totally expected (in a bigger picture way) in others. Nonetheless, you can’t help muttering with a fair degree of frequency, “Things can only get better.”

You mutter that particularly frequently with regard to technology but, you know? So far, not so much. It’s nicknamed “Cayman Mal’s Fraudband” for good reason.

Yeah, it seems that 2018 is already shaping up to be another of those years.

That’s not to imply that we didn’t have an enjoyable festive break. It’s also not to imply that I’ve actually taken down the Christmas cards. We’ve had a hot week, then today is so cool that I’m reaching for a cardigan and thinking that summer is over. It’s not. We’ll have more hot weather, but the mornings are starting to draw in; something we’d notice even more were YoungB still rowing. We miss that for all sorts of reasons but the early mornings don’t feature among them!

I have a couple of sewing projects that I should be turning my mind to – that new summer nightie that I wrote about ages ago? Yeah, I never did get around to doing that! – and there are always rescue missions on old and well-loved garments. The trouble mostly is that they are, in fact, old. Then the question becomes, how many times can you mend a jacket? And even if you can, should you?

I have one RTW jacket that was in time-out towards the end of last year because I’d had enough of mending it. After 20-plus years of hard work, it owed me nothing. But it’s a good cut, the best in-between weight jacket I own, and I needed it for work. So I mended it. Again. Ideally, I should unpick it and use it as a template. I’m not sure I have the space for that, but it appeals to me as a good option for ending up with a jacket that I can wear for much of the year. And I could spice it up by lining it with guitar-playing skeletons, couldn’t I? (I have some fabric like that in my stash, honest.)

Then there’s the, “I feel a mitten-knitting orgy coming on” urge that often hits at this time of year (as ridiculous as that sounds when the mere thought of woollen yarn makes hands sweat). The attraction of the idea is that there’s still some daylight when I get home after work, so I’m much more likely to be able to see what I’m doing. That improves my chances of completing things, particularly darker items. So if I start now, whether on something new or one of the many WIPs, I might have something ready to go when those winter birthdays roll around.

Also, I need some crochet to work on while I’m watching TV. I don’t watch TV often but, when I do, I find it difficult to just sit there. I make too many mistakes if I try to knit at the same time but I can manage simple crochet. So I’m off to dig up another lot of stash yarn to do a knee rug to take to work. Oh, wait, didn’t I say that once before?! I promise to stop earlier with this one; or make separate granny squares so that it’s a better commuter project.

Whatever the status of your year, I hope it’s providing you with plenty of crafting opportunities.

 

 

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what was going to be and what was

It ended up looking a bit like this but not really, mostly because I was wearing it 🙂

This is what it was going to be. I love the pattern and the range of style options. It’s elegant enough for a wedding but not intimidatingly difficult. However, tracing and cutting required more space than I presently have or can create. This is what it ended up being. I’ve made it at least twice before, all the pattern pieces were already cut out and it is indeed an easy sew. It is, however, a 1980’s pattern, which means quite loose-fitting. Perfect. I wanted something more fitted. I measured carefully and reread the instructions, as well as measuring an RTW dress I use for work to ensure that the finished measurements wouldn’t be indecently tight. It worked out well. Both Dr B and YoungB were surprised by how nice the finished article was. (Don’t you just love their confidence in my ability?!)

My wonderful, expensive fabric behaved beautifully and sewed up a treat. Except, sadly, when I was sewing on the right side of the fabric (eg, to make the neckband or hem, or doing any topstitching). Then, no matter what I adjusted, there were skipped stitches. I tweaked all sorts of things, to no avail. Finally with time running away from me, the light fading, my neck aching (from bending over all that unpicking) and my patience fraying ever so slightly, I decided that I’d simply use a smaller stitch length, sew slowly and steadily and accept whatever I got at the end of that process. It didn’t do away with the skipped stitches, but it did minimise their number. And I accepted that result. (You’d have to look closely to notice the skipped stitches.)

I made version 1, including the long sleeves because, you know, cool afternoons  and evenings up in the HIlls, winter on its way and all of that. And, as I said, my end result was, as intended, a great deal more fitted than the envelope photo would suggest.

I changed the neckline entirely. I have interfacing somewhere, but since tidying my sewing room I’m no longer certain of its whereabouts. Therefore, I decided to do something whose construction was akin to that of a t-shirt collar, but I made it with a slight twist. I let the dress hang for a couple of nights before I finally hemmed it. Dr B measured it for me, and estimated I’d need to remove 5 inches. That sounded like rather a lot! I shortened it by 4 inches and turned up a half-inch hem. That gave me a flattering, just-below-knee hemline. Funnily enough, I don’t recall shortening it last time, and I haven’t marked the pattern to indicate that I did. But I haven’t got any taller in the intervening 33-odd years.

Rather than leave it languishing in the wardrobe simply because the neckline could use adjusting, I’ve worn it on Board meeting days.

Also, partly because I have T. Rex arms, I had to chop off some of the sleeve length. I hadn’t made the long sleeved version before, but I ought to have remembered the 1980’s penchant for Very Long Sleeves and taken heed from the pushed-up sleeves in the photo. No harm done and the dress finished in ample time (honestly, I reckon I was done with the last of the threads by mid-morning on the day of the late-afternoon wedding). We ended up being a party in blue because Dr B and YoungB both elected to wear blue shirts. It wasn’t done intentionally to match my dress, merely serendipity.

Serendipity had us all in blue, just like half the wedding party.

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2017 in Sewing

 

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comfort of a sort

You know that feeling when you’ve lurched to the last working day of the year and what you haven’t done is not done but you can’t dredge up sufficient energy to care? That happened to me halfway through December. In my previous job, the obligatory holiday during the Christmas shut-down could vary greatly, so I mostly made mine long to enable me to cope with all the family, cycling and rowing events that clustered round that part of summer. It wasn’t the sort of job where the work you hadn’t  finished would be waiting when you returned. Jobs didn’t hang around or hang over for that long. You might find yourself typing later sittings of the same matter, but it would have moved on.

In my present job, almost everything I hadn’t done was awaiting me when I returned, plus a few extras I hadn’t anticipated. That’s a distinct deterrent to taking long breaks, because it means that the return workload is crushing and you need a good life-jacket. But I had a holiday, anyway, during which I managed to tidy my sewing room somewhat.

2017 will be challenging. The sector is changing and in order to survive and flourish, organisations have to not only change but come up with new ideas for growth. I feel remarkably inadequate in that scenario. I’m still reasonably good at thinking on my feet, and quickly, but I have no business background at all. This is, I suspect, a shorthand way of saying that I need to enrol in some suitable units at a local TAFE, or within an undergraduate degree, if I’m to have any hope of not going under. My problem is that I don’t know what I need because it’s difficult to intuit what shape the future changes will take with regard to my job. I often feel now as if I’m close to drowning because of the workload, so perhaps I need to invest in a better life-jacket because that feeling is unlikely to lessen.

As near to drowning as I might be, something I do know is that I’ll need to knit and sew more, or I’ll be too grumpy for words. I also know that I’m going to have to do a l-o-t of work to get my photo app to talk to my blog. Lots to work on this year, and not a resolution in sight! All the best with all of your plans, resolutions or just general intentions for this year’s crafting. 🙂

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2017 in Knitting, Musing, Sewing

 

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