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party pooper

The last time Karen hosted a Pyjama Party Sewalong, I finished mine in time but was defeated by technology when it came to showcasing photos of same. This year? I was going so well! All cameras charged and functioning, computers working OK most of the time. I’d bought the fabric, laundered it and even ironed it (yes, that’s quite possibly what caused any recent seismic disturbances in this part of the world). I had it laid out on my sewing table with the pattern and everything, all ready to cut out. It’s a pattern I’ve used on numerous previous occasions, so I knew the actual sewing wouldn’t take long at all. But then? Then we had unexpected visitors from interstate – a delightful couple of busy days, but although some knitting might have happened when I wasn’t driving, I certainly wasn’t able to do any sewing – and that was that. So, really, I think that had better be that. No more parties for me. I obviously can’t be relied on to do anything in time!

That’s not to say that, in between feeling very glum about the whole employment scene and not wanting to waste blog time moaning about same, I haven’t been busy. I’ve finally finished Youngest Uncle’s fingered mitts/fingerless gloves (at this time of year, good, natural light for sewing can be in short supply but the need for the finished article quite pressing, especially now that Youngest Uncle is home from a tropical holiday). I’ve knitted a beanie for myself. And I really am about 99% done with Middle Niece’s Easy Lace Cowl.

I ended up making Youngest Uncle’s fingerless gloves/fingered mitts using a knit-it-flat-then-sew-it-up pattern from the Patons Winter Warmers Book 483. It’s pattern 37, Knitted Family Gloves or Mitts. I used Cleckheaton Country Tartan yarn, which knits up beautifully, and made the Man’s size. I’m happy with the results and I’m sure Youngest Uncle will be too (I’ll be delivering them tomorrow).

Test-driven by Dr B, whose hands are very large. They'll certainly fit Youngest Uncle.

Test-driven by Dr B, whose hands are very large. They’ll certainly fit Youngest Uncle.

And, as I said, I knitted a beanie for myself. Strictly speaking, when I said the colours of that balaclava weren’t my colours, I was wrong. The colours are fine but those particular shades are perhaps not quite dark enough for me. On the other hand, although the beanie sports a similar colour palette, the shades are much darker; in fact, a little too dark for me. But let me remind you of YoungB’s witty wisdom that any colour is your colour when you’re cold. I’ve been wearing this beanie and loving how warm it is.

Cheerful, self-striping yarn again but this time a slightly flatter crown than my previous beanie

Cheerful, self-striping yarn again but this time a slightly flatter crown than my previous beanie

You won’t be surprised to hear that this pattern also comes from the Patons Winter Warmers Book 483. This time I used pattern 15, Knitted Cap and Scarf. I made the Lady’s size, used Bendigo Woollen Mills’ Murano and didn’t bother with the striping (given that the yarn provided that anyway). Once again, I loved the yarn but was disappointed that there was a knot. And this time, I didn’t see the knot coming, so ended up having to tink half a row. Oh, well, no biggie. At least I wasn’t knitting anything complex.

So that’s what I’ve been doing. I hope you’ve been keeping busy, too?

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2013 in Knitting, Sewing

 

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bringing a new look to the ancient: Pattern Pyramid Giveaway

Karen over at Did You Make That? is hosting a Pattern Pyramid Giveaway. It sounds like such a good idea I couldn’t resist joining in. Why don’t you join in too?

I seem to have done something wrong with the button, since it’s not sitting in nice alignment with the one for Karen’s Pyjama Party Sewalong (which was also a lot of fun that I hope you didn’t miss out on). I must not obsess. This is not giving me a headache. The information is there. I must not obsess. This is not… And then I looked properly at Karen’s button. It’s also not on the same alignment. See? I’m not stressing. I’m not.

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2012 in Sewing

 

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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.

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2012 in Sewing

 

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but it isn’t red

Although I’m not participating in Me-Made-May, I’m trying to wear something me-made each day during May, partly to see if I can do it but without the pressure of having to. Today I wore my most recently made scarf. But, dash it all, it’s not red. Today is May Day and I can’t remember when I last didn’t wear a significant amount of red on May Day. I have red on my shoes, but the rest of me is mostly black. At least, my clothes are.

Later: I tried to add a photo of Boy wearing the PJ bottoms but, alas, that method didn’t work. So we’ll have to wait for Dr B to work a bit more magic before we have photos.

I can make some comments, though, about the bottoms. They were a quick, easy make. I would certainly make them again and will doubtless do so. There’ll be more winter PJ bottoms or summer boxers (or both) for Boy and I’m half-tempted to make some winter PJ bottoms for myself! It’s worth remembering, which I didn’t, that the pattern is for a knit fabric not a woven one. I made a women’s size 10 for Boy, which is ample enough round his backside and would probably not have been problematic in a stretchier fabric; but I forgot about his beefy quads. He has rower’s thighs (or cyclist’s thighs; but big) and, well, the bottoms are a bit strained. However, they don’t split or look as if they’re about to when he bends over (the standard test hereabouts) and they’re not squashing anything vital. So next time, I’ll make a 12 and he should be fine.

Of course they don’t look anything like the picture. They’re not shorts, they’re not made of a knit fabric and I tinkered with the pattern to make it just one pattern piece instead of two. I don’t think I’ve ever used the wide waistband the pattern uses so the appearance has always been like and yet unlike. My problems with the waistband relate more to my choice of elastic, I think. Back in prehistory when I did a stretch-fabric sewing course, non-roll elastic was the go. That’s elastic which, when stretched, returns to its original size. It’s difficult to come by; that is to say, I have trouble finding it. Most elastic I use seems to stretch and keep stretching and not return to its previous size and then it’s no use. (That was the drama with my wedding-outfit skirt.)

I zigzagged the measured soft elastic onto the wasitband. It stretched so much that the trousers were then falling off Boy so I had to unpick it all. Darn. At that point, I abandoned the attached elastic method and decided the old-fashioned tried and true method of threaded elastic would be perfectly all right, thank you. The elastic I ended up using is really too firm for night attire but it has the advantage of threading well and, because I made the channel with hardly any wriggle room, it won’t twist too much. It doesn’t have room to twist. In any case, Boy says it’s very comfy and just firm enough. That’s what I like to hear.

I was in a hurry – nothing new there – so I didn’t do the French seams or even pinked seams that I should have used. I just zigzagged around the crutch (usual practice) and left the rest as is. I know from having used the fabric many times before that it frays hardly at all and will wear well even without any finishing on the seams (the camo/helicopter pair lasted a couple of years with bare, unfinished seams). It’s lazy, I know, and I promise to try to do better next time. I can’t promise that I will because one shouldn’t make promises one is likely to be unable to keep, isn’t that right?

But you know my favourite part – and I really wish I could show you a photo of this now but it, too, will have to wait – is the black ribbon that indicates “This is the back.” It’s actually ribbon from some chocolates that were a birthday present (I hoard ribbon, it’s useful for lavender bags and the like) and what it actually says is, “Love chocolate.” Yeah, Boy is a chocoholic too, so it’s apt. Oh, and the PJ bottoms aren’t red, either. They’re green.

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2012 in Sewing

 

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rowing pyjamas?

No, they’re not and there’s no such thing that I know of but we have just come home from a rowing function and Boy got straight into his pyjamas as soon as we had unloaded a couple of bags. I asked if he’d let me photograph him wearing them so I could be part of Karen’s Pyjama Party Sewalong reveal. He’s an obliging sort of chap, so he put them on and said they felt like 70s flares because they’re wide-legged. They’re actually straight-legged, not a flare in sight, but he’s accustomed to skinnier styles. He was also wearing the trial sweatshirt I made for him and you could just about get away with calling it a match with the PJ bottoms as they’re both green and although not the same green, the tonality is similar. I took a photo, just one.

The camera card is now full – we’re not sure why; I was fairly sure I’d erased images after the last upload but they’re all still there, plus photos from tonight’s rowing presentations – but I managed just one image of Boy almost in the frame. Almost! It doesn’t matter whether he’s in it or not, really, because we can’t presently find a way to upload images directly from the camera. This is a hangover from the computer problems of earlier this year; there are still occasions where things don’t work and can’t be made to without much inconvenience to everyone.

On the whole, we’d prefer to avoid the inconvenience to others element, so I won’t be pressing for too much action on the photo front just yet awhile. It’s a pity I can’t party with everyone else but that’s the way things turn out. Pillow fights? I think I’ll sob into mine. I have a few comments to make about sewing the PJ bottoms, mostly relating to frustrations with elastic, but perhaps I’ll leave those until I’m able to post a photo. The crotch seam turned out very well, I’m pleased to report. I think I should at least mention that. And that I’m presently rereading Legends of Australian Fantasy edited by Jack Dann and Jonathan Strahan.

Still in sewing mode: I couldn’t go to our final rowing presentation dinner without appropriately coloured attire. I didn’t have a dress or skirt that would have been comfy and warm so I grabbed trousers, a slinky little sleeveless t-shirt top and a jacket. They were all right as far as colour was concerned, but they were all the same colour and we do have the choice of black and white and grey, or just black and white if we can’t do much else. I decided that a scarf would be a good way to add a bit of colour. I didn’t have one, so I made one. In my stash I had a large piece of fabric I’d probably intended to use for a top. Some might argue that its background colour is not really white but rather cream. The flowers and stripes are black. In the dim light of the function centre, it was black-and-white enough to be obvious that I was aiming in the right direction.

I folded my fabric so that it was on the diagonal then cut across, eyeballing everything, so that I ended up with a truncated triangle. Yeah, really scientific and accurate. Not. (And probably quite wasteful of fabric, though I’ll make lavender bags out of the leftovers.) Actually, it was surprisingly reasonable in terms of size. Sure, one end is a little wider than the other, but it’s not so much larger that it looks ridiculous; and that might be related to sewing inaccuracy as much as cutting inaccuracy because I didn’t pin anything, just sat the machine and stitched. The fabric slid somewhat, so although I tried to keep the seam the same width, it probably isn’t; and although I held the cut edges, I’m sure that in one or two spots the cut edges don’t align precisely.

I sewed across one angled end, along the shorter side, turned another corner and sewed across the other angled end, leaving a gap to turn the scarf through. It turned through a treat, so I then top stitched the side and ends and left the unsewn side, well, unsewn. The longer side is about 82 inches, the shorter about 70 inches and the width around 5.5 inches. You know what? The lads think it’s very nice. You know what else? It is.

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2012 in Rowing, Sewing

 

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burgeoning beanies

Last night I had a haircut. This happens infrequently enough to be an activity of note but the best part of it was that, when I pulled my purse out to pay, the hairdresser told me that Middle Aunt had already done that when she’d been there earlier in the day (she gets her hair seen to much more frequently than I do; and we’re all agreed, she’s much greyer than I am so it’s likely her need is greater than mine). How kind and generous is that?

Naturally, this calls for some little thank you gesture beyond the phone call I made when I came home (Middle Aunt was at choir practice, so I left a message with Youngest Niece). I thought another beanie might be the go. Oh, yes, it will just be the usual pattern, the L574 or 475 or whatever it is (I can’t be bothered looking; I mean, I’ve admitted it’s my go-to beanie for fast results) but I’m trying a different yarn this time.

No, I haven’t quite finished the pink beanie but I’m confident that I’ll finish it tonight (only about 10 ever-decreasing rows remain and the sewing up takes no time at all). While I will certainly cast on for the gift beanie, I think I need to be a little more serious about all the sewing on my list if I’m not to fail in the Pyjama Party Sewalong. I can knit on the bus. I can’t take my sewing with me.

We are presently enjoying an Indian summer but it won’t last forever and Boy will soon be wanting his sweatshirt which, I think, probably takes precedence over the pyjamas. The pyjamas he could manage without. The sweatshirt? That is a thing of direst fashion need.

Later: It is now 10 o’clock and Dr B is on his way to bed. Boy should be but isn’t. Me? I’ve finished the pink beanie (I tried it on Dr B and he says it’s toasty warm if not his colour), started the next one (on which I’m already making good progress because it’s on needles of a size I can manage) and have a load of laundry gently doing its stuff. I’ll hang it out tonight, I think, late though the hour, because I want some of the contents tomorrow. As to clearing the sewing room? It’s too daunting a task, I admit, to undertake in anything more than short bursts when it’s late in the day and you’re tired (it is and I am). You don’t make much progress doing it that way. It’s a task that might have to wait for a full-scale onslaught on the weekend.

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2012 in Knitting, Sewing

 

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but then again

Boy says, “Don’t listen to Dad.” Boy likes the beanie. He likes grey so it would ring his bells on that account though he might not necessarily be overwhelmed by the bits of pink. But he says it’s nice and what would Dr B know? OK, I feel a bit less worried about it now.

They are doing eco-weekend stuff, carting away the last of the willow they cut up last weekend. My colleague didn’t want the wood because, according to her research, willow doesn’t burn well, provides little heat and is inclined to spark. She has an enclosed Kent-style heater, so I would have thought the sparking not a huge concern but it didn’t worry me one way or the other. Youngest Aunt and Uncle would have taken it, no worries. But they don’t have enough space left to store it. So off to the mulcher it goes.

I’m making no progress at all with trying to clear the sewing table so I can start on the pyjamas. The minute I clear one spot, something else that doesn’t belong there ends up being dumped there “just temporarily”. I am somewhat overwhelmed by other people’s problems at present and I suspect that’s not helping my general attempts to make progress. I haven’t given up but I admit to feeling more than usually disheartened.

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2012 in Knitting, Sewing

 

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getting with it

I’m slowly getting to grips with the technology. I haven’t yet cracked all the photos I need to resurrect so we’ll continue in a photoless state. With a bit of luck, I should now have a Pyjama Party Sewalong button over there on the side and a couple of amended thises and thatses. Yeah, keeping up with a blog is a lot of work.

I’m in two minds about Me-Made-May. I could do it, I think, in terms of wearing a scarf and/or beanie and/or mitts every day and that would meet the requirements. That sounds a little unexciting and hardly a challenge, though, because I already have enough scarves and beanies to see me through May and well into the rest of the winter as well. I did have last year and I’ve, ah, acquired a couple of new scarves since then.

If you recall, a while ago I had something along the lines of a discussion regarding could, should and would and, well, decided that, could and/or should notwithstanding, I probably would not do much winter sewing because of time and/or space constraints. I agree that lack of space is a weak excuse. I have a whole room I can dedicate to sewing, or I would if it weren’t used for everything else. That’s merely my sloppy housekeeping, isn’t it?

It’s true that my clothes are old and worn (and I discovered yesterday that a blouse I’ve been wearing to work has actually come adrift under the arm) and that it wouldn’t be extravagant to make some new ones. But in time for use throughout May? That’s a trickier ask altogether. Are you joining in?

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2012 in Sewing

 

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sewalong prep

Karen has posted about fabric choices. My fabric will be from stash and according to long practice: flannelette for the bottoms, lightweight interlock for the top. In the interests of being able to use the fabric, I’m pleased to announce that I can almost see the sewing table again; almost. There are some papers on it that shouldn’t be there, but it’s vastly improved on its previous state.

I should have knitted some more of the beanie today but I didn’t. By the time I came back to the office from my morning’s recording work, I was too tired and hungry to do much but simply sit and eat my lunch before my head caved in. Knitting on the bus on a working day is always tricky. I couldn’t have done it tonight, that’s for sure. The bus was chockers. I intend to knit while Boy and Dr B are out this evening. I’ll have no interruptions and, as I said, the rows are getting noticeably shorter now. If I really knuckle down, I might even finish the beanie!

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2012 in Knitting, Sewing

 

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exotically

Youngest Aunt and I enjoyed The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and liked the comfort of the recliners in Gold Class (although the angle, even at its most upright, led to difficulties when it came to eating nachos without making a mess). It would be easy to fall asleep, but neither of us did. At least, I didn’t and Youngest Aunt was laughing often enough for me to say that, as I also didn’t hear her snoring, she probably didn’t fall asleep, either. To accompany the film and our nachos, we chose a lovely, fruity local (McLaren Vale) cabernet sauvignon. Life ain’t bad. After the film, we had time for coffee and a quick catch-up chat before I needed to jump aboard a bus and come home.

I knitted all the way there (about 75 minutes worth on the bus) and read all the way back (a new book). So I can report that I have made visible progress with the decreases on the crown of Eldest Nephew’s beanie – it’s starting to acquire a beanie-type shape, whereas before it was hard to tell what was happening – and that I will certainly finish it this week (I should type that with fnigres corsesd because something is bound to happen that will mean I don’t finish it). I was talking with Middle Aunt yesterday and she said that Eldest Nephew will be very pleased with the beanie’s quiet, unobtrusive warmth. Good.

When I arrived home, I found the backyard quite bare. Dr B and Boy had taken to our fallen willow tree with a chainsaw. The birds have been lost since it fell, not sure where to go. The rainbow lorikeets have been perching almost close enough to touch, the branches had sagged so low. Now there are no branches at all.

In other crafting news, I have decided to join Karen’s Pyjama Party Sewalong (for which I seem presently unable to get the button to work).

It so happens that Boy is in need of some new PJ trousers and the sewalong could be just the nudge I need to get that sewing room tidied up again (it keeps getting swamped) and settle down with some serious sewing for a couple of weeks. I have yet to make Boy’s track-style sweater, but that won’t take long once I’ve cut it out (finding the sewing table under the accumulated piles will take longer). I’ve also a few domestic sewing chores requiring my attention but there’s no real haste about them (heck, they’ve waited this long, they can wait a bit longer).

Karen intends to use Simplicity 2721 for her PJs. I’ll use New Look 6374 Six Sizes in One for mine. Don’t bother Googling it, the present New Look 6374 is a different animal altogether. I’ve had my version for a long time. I can’t find a date on it anywhere, but I’ve had it for at least 15 years and probably quite a bit longer. It’s properly a ladies’ pattern for skirts, a T-shirt and singlet top as well as shorts.

The shorts are dead simple, having only two pattern pieces. They’re designed to be loose and casual, so I’ve been making PJ trousers, board shorts and boxers for Boy – all derived from that pattern – since he was about six, adjusting width and length as necessary for the legs. I made the first pair of PJ trousers for him from a burgundy-coloured fabric printed with sheep, both black and white. He loved those and wore them till they reached a point where I could no longer mend them.

He also had a pair with aliens and spaceships and things; and a helicopters-on-camo pair. His boxers have been camo, red with racing cars, blue with BMX bikes and one current pair he refuses to wear because the pattern on the fabric is so awful (I’m inclined to agree; Dr B chose it, reckoning it didn’t matter what colour it was if it was for something like boxers. Wrong). In any case, that’s the pattern I’ll use for the PJ trousers.

The top? Well, I dare say that will be the tried and true Justknits 96859, which is again a multi-sized ladies’ pattern easily adjusted to fit any size or gender – I mean, it’s a T-shirt pattern so we’re not talking complicated fitting issues, particularly for a PJ top that needs to be loose enough for overnight tossing and turning comfort – or perhaps the Simplicity 5976 raglan T-shirt. Either pattern will do. I’ve used both and they’re quick, easy makes. I’ve had the Justknits pattern for about 18 years and the Simplicity one for maybe 10 years, so neither is new.

So that’s a roundup of what I’m doing in terms of sewing and knitting. Tomorrow, of course, I’m back at work. After such a lovely long weekend, that will seem exotic. Or so I tell myself.

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2012 in Knitting, Sewing

 

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