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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?

 
 

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as it turns out

The intended recipient liked the beanie, so all my worries were in vain. I hadn’t had the opportunity to make any new lavender bags, however, so I had to grab one from Boy’s cupboard (I can make him as many more as he needs but when you’ve run out of deadline, then sacrifices must be made). It has sheep on it.

The pink beanie is almost completed but although knitting it on slightly larger needles than the grey one, as I am doing, would generally mean faster work, the size I’m using is right at the edge of what my small hands can manage. I’m slow because I struggle to hit a rhythm. It matters not. There will be another beanie in the FO stash ready for dragging out at a moment’s notice for someone else’s birthday present. Unless you think I should appropriate it for myself?

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2012 in Knitting, Sewing

 

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beanie, blue beanie

In the hope of capitalising on my bus trip this morning, I tried to gather up the necessities required for making the blue beanie (yes, it’s going to be blue, dark blue). I had the yarn (it is actually wool). I had the pattern (thanks, Yarn Harlot). But could I find appropriate needles? What that means is that they’re in use on mittens or something. Gosh, I need to finish a few things before starting any more.

And fingerless mitts for Nonno? Dr B had no idea where his were (as I’d suspected would be the case). I donated mine. Mine are pretty and purple, not at all tough and manly. Did Nonno care? Not a whit. I’m told he loved them (my guess is that he loved the warmth, if we’re being picky about this). So now I need to make some more for myself before winter strikes, because I will certainly need them.

To do list? Fingerless mitts for colleague, fingerless mitts for Youngest Uncle, beanie for Eldest Nephew, fingerless mitts for me and, oh yes, a bit of sewing too: sweater for Boy, top and skirt for me, a pile more lavender bags for Nonna and some to top up our dwindling supply.

Dr B. delivered the shawl to Nonna today for her birthday, with a couple of lavender bags. I haven’t yet heard how well it was received but it’s such a pretty colour that I hope she didn’t think we were wishing her dead and buried, which is how she treated the last shawl we gave her. If for some reason it raised her ire, I’ll use it myself and perhaps a beanie would be good for her too, do you think? But perhaps not a blue one because it seems her point of view is that dark blue is for old people. She likes bright colours, whether or not they suit her.

I’d hoped to post a photo of the purple fingerless mitts. Sorry, can’t be done. While some of my iPhoto library is in working order, most of the craft photos are in the bits that aren’t.

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2012 in Knitting, Sewing

 

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topping it all

Did I mention I’d made another top using Portia’s simple self-drafted pattern? I have. This time it’s from a remnant of fabric I bought when I was pregnant with Boy. Given its relative neutrality, I’d thought at the time that I could probably use it to make a little garment for either a boy or a girl. That turned out not to be the case, so it has sat in my stash doing not much but call to me occasionally. Its turn finally came. There wasn’t quite enough to make a top for me, but by judiciously adding some contrasts in another fabric, I was able to make something useful and wearable. I call that a win.

The fabric has small, dark-blue hearts on a white background. I teamed it with leftovers of the dark blue with white spots that I used to make a top for work. And yes, I have worn that to work, three or four times. That fabric is good quality knit, just heavy enough to provide some extra warmth if you need it but not so heavy that it can’t be worn on a warm day. In other words, it’s actually a good choice for work because the office is generally cold but if I then go out at lunchtime into the warmth and sunshine, I don’t roast. (Okay, I admit that it takes a fair bit to make me roast anyway, but I think you understand what I mean.)

So getting back to the most recent Portia top, I admit to having had a bit of a bad run with it. First, the fabrics are different weights. The white one is lighter than the blue one. That isn’t a major problem, but I think similar weight fabrics would marry up better and make handling easier. Second, I miscalculated how wide a strip I’d need in order to make a Chanel trim for the neck, so I had some headaches getting it to sit flat. To be utterly truthful, it doesn’t quite sit flat, but the bump is at the back so it’s not the end of the world by any means.

Third, although I cut the pieces evenly, I must have sewn one sleeve with slightly narrower seams, because the sleeve bands I cut to the same size didn’t fit both sleeves properly. I ended up doing an on-the-fly bias-binding join to fix the second one. It’s under the arm. Who will see it? I can barely see it and I know it’s there! Fourth, I nicked the piece of contrast fabric for the bottom of the back piece and, because it was late at night and I was tired, didn’t notice till I’d just about sewn the piece to its lighter partner. I zig-zagged a mend and carried on. Luckily, it’s in the seam allowance. It’s also not the end of the world.

Fifth, and this is a frequent problem for me as you’ll understand in a moment, my navy thread kept breaking. It’s the end of a large spool of cheap thread and that’s all there is to it. It’s cheap. Having said that, the black, cream, white and two shades of brown I bought at the same time are fine. For some reason I can’t fathom, the navy is a constant drama. It looks okay on the spool, but the minute I start using it, all the flaws seem to appear. I needed to use it to do the neckline and the hem but it takes me twice as long with the constant stopping and rethreading, then having to do something about all those extra ends. All in all, because I was doing other things as well, it took me the best part of a week to make that little top and it’s really not complicated enough to require that amount of time.

Overall, however, and despite all the things I know to be considerably less than perfect about it, I’m happy with it. I’ve worn it at home, and that was probably its original destination, but it could easily be worn to the shops or perhaps even to work under a cardigan or jacket. White isn’t a good colour on me but the blue provides contrast. I’d have to call it a win: something decent for around-the-house wear, perfectly fine for going to the shops and possibly all right for work, as well as a reduction in stash.

And the couple of Moebius cowls I crocheted look pretty good too, plus the growing pile of lavender bags I’m knocking up to send off to worthy homes with Nonno and Nonna, whose present situations both require a little bit of extra comfort and sweetening.

I’m off to line up another Portia top so I have something appropriate to wear to the schools’ Head of the River regatta in a couple of weeks. This time I’ll do all the binding with the same fabric, I won’t use the cheap, navy thread and I’ll be very careful to ensure all my pieces and seams really are the same size. That should make for a quick and easy sewing project, don’t you think?

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2012 in Crochet, Rowing, Sewing

 

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festive and festal

I finished work early and went to hear a talk that was part of the festival. The atmosphere was festive. While there, I gave our friend her new Moebius cowl, which could perhaps be worn as a garland. That would be festal. Oh, it was the cowl I started yesterday. It worked up quickly and, packed into its protective plastic bag with a lavender bag to make it smell sweet, appeared to be a good collection of colours.

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2012 in Crochet, Musing

 

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a busy, productive week

I achieve in fits and starts.

On the sewing front, during the last week I completed Boy’s sweatshirt (which he’s worn almost non-stop since, though it’s not quite the design he’d been after). He was impressed by my cleverness and how good the result was. We’re agreed on what sorts of changes will be required for the next one.

I made a spotty top for myself, using Miss P’s draft-your-own-top pattern. It turned out so well that I made another one straightaway.I finished a skirt I’d had lurking in my stash for five years or so. The second top matched the skirt (same fabric). I wore that outfit to a wedding yesterday. My menfolk liked it. The skirt wasn’t brilliant (I had trouble with the waistband elastic), but it was all right, the fabric was pretty and all in all, it was probably as well made as some of the other outfits. Desperation and penury are sometimes powerful motivators.

On the knitting front, not so much progress. I tidied up the ends on Nonna’s shawl and called it done. It will be a gift for her birthday in a few weeks. Dr B asked if I would make some lavender bags for her. I’d have made at least one to accompany the shawl but will now make a few more. It’s no trouble.

On the crochet front I finished another Moebius cowl, this one for Eldest Niece, using the same soft, pretty yarn that I used for Nonna’s shawl. The yarn knits to a prettier finish than crochet provides, but I think the colours will appeal to Eldest Niece. She has a birthday looming, too, and there’s a pair of mittens I need to finish for her. The cowl I made the week before was smaller and too pink but it will make a gift for someone else’s birthday, have no fear; not much sits idle for very long in my completed objects boxes.

On the to-do list: fingerless mitts for a colleague, another sweatshirt for Boy, another top and skirt for myself to wear to Head of the River in a few weeks (the skirt is so I can be in the water taking photos; I don’t do shorts anywhere but in the privacy of my own home) and some other more mundane things such as hemming a pair of trousers for Nonna and making some new streamers for Head of the River (I’ve started those).

But meanwhile, the housework is piling up around me!

 

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