Thursday, 24 July 2014

Because who doesn't need a crocheted granny square vest??

...Especially when you are off to mount your horse.

Sometimes you hit gold. Sometimes you enter that op shop with something else entirely on your agenda, but find yourself with a smile a mile wide.

The motherlode of knitting patterns from the 50's, 60's and 70's. Thank you Betty, whoever and wherever you are.

This is but a small sub-selection of the entire load I nabbed. And wait for it... all for the ridiculous price of $1. That's right. Not $1 each, but $1 total!! There's something like a few hundred patterns here contained in 20 odd pattern books.

I grabbed them all because they are actually full of some great basic and timeless patterns and I do in fact see myself using them to knit up a whole stack of things over the next several decades.

But boy do they have some entertainment value, immersing one in the the most iconic fashions of the time. Let's begin... 70's anyone?

I mean I know my hubby needs a beautifully hand crocheted, contrast trimmed and belted tunic for when he's tending the helm of our timber canal boat. How about yours?

Well hello handsome, you really are quite the looker in your lovingly crafted vest, sipping your amber ale.

A little lurex anyone? Oh yeah, take me to the disco.

And this poor lass, she looks a bit apprehensive doesn't she? This totally makes me think of a very special hair salon cape. I still remember my awesome knitted/crocheted green and white poncho from when I was about 5. I loved that thing so much I never took it off.

This one nearly made me wanna go back.

Don't you just wanna be her? No? Just me?

But then the 70's/80's did throw up some lovely numbers I can actually see myself in, with a few modifications.
 Love it! In the right colours, it could be cute.

And this...

...I'd totally keep knitting the sleeves to full length and be happy as a pig in mud. Love that neckline.

And now for some humorous photo captions... I mean really?

 What's she waiting for??

Brave? Is she about to be attacked my a mountain lion? Well, this cardigan will certainly help!

I need to admit I cannot crochet for love nor money. I tried once and it was ugly. But these, these make me want to find someone who can...

 Dresses of awesome.

And this skirt? It's a must have.

Now, I'm off to knit hubby and I matching Mad Men sweaters.

Saturday, 19 July 2014


Yay! I finally finished something this winter. It was looking doubtful but it happened!

May I introduce my "quick win", the Libby skirt.

Have you ever been in a crafting funk where nothing seems to grab you for long and when something does grab you it simply does not move at a pace that keeps you really engaged? I've been in one of those. This year has shaped up to be incredibly demanding, and has left so very little time for anything extraneous at all. And as much as we'd all like to think sewing and knitting are not extraneous, the reality is sometimes they truly are.

My knitting progress has ground almost to a halt. Knitting takes time dudes. Serious time. Hours daily I just don't have anymore.

But then a few little things happened that propelled me forward.

1. I saw Rachel's awesome Libby skirt and just had to have it. Sorry Rachel! I know this skirt isn't quite the same, but I loved yours so very much that it certainly comes close. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? I so hope you think so Rachel.

2. I spent a wonderful half hour or so at Tessuti in Surry Hills chatting with the very gorgeous and generous Colette. And it just made me feel all happy and energised. Thank you Colette!

I knew I was going to make the Libby skirt, I happened to be close to Surry Hills with a bizarrely free hour, and so I thought I'd check out my fabric options at Tessuti. I had black brocade on the brain. And what do you know?? Score!

A gorgeous black baroque brocade in a cotton/elastane/acrylic mix. It goes by the name Fleur de Noir and was clearly a popular fabric as there was hardly any left, and only at Surry Hills. It's very stretchy, and the awesomely free Libby is designed for wovens, but Colette gave me a tonne of sizing advice and assistance, suggesting sizing down to account for stretchy give.

I must admit I actually went against the advice and I'm unsure how it will stand up to stretching out with wear.

I ended up sizing according to my measurements: 8 at the waist and graded out to a "9" at the hip (ie between the 8 and 10) and the fit is spot on. The waist is a little big so it sits a little lower than it's supposed to, but I prefer it lower. I stabilised the waistline by sewing cotton tape into the seam allowance at the waistline of the skirt and also block interfacing the facing (this part is standard).

I lined the skirt with fire red bemsilk which is not stretchy and I figured this would help avoid the outer becoming distorted. I've never lined a skirt before and Colette suggested I attach the lining to the waistband facing, but in the end I sandwiched it between the facing and outer skirt at the waistline. I simply pleated out the excess where the back darts are and it all fit beautifully. Love the feel of a lined skirt. I'm going to line everything now.

The fabric is verrrrrryyyyyy thick and with the skirt, facing, cotton tape and lining, turning the waistline and topstitching it was very difficult - it's seriously thick up there! Somehow it doesn't look bulky though - result!

I picked the mini version and super-mini'ed it! Too mini?? I removed a couple of inches in length and I'm hoping it doesn't make me look like a hoochimumma. Be nice everyone. I knew I'd wear this with flat boots and opaques and I think it works...

But it was soooooo bitchin' freezing with awesome gale force winds taking these photos that upon finishing I immediately changed into my trusty jeans, boots and jumper. I just can't get warm this winter. Anyone else feeling the same?

Freezing my ass off for the blog. Ahhhh the things we do.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

I am a bear

I am, I am a bear....

I've been hibernating: figuratively and literally.

I've been a little absent, but I've been reading your blogs every chance I get!

I followed Sarah's advice. And yes, Sarah, it was worth hibernating for a while. My last post spoke of my growing disconnect from, and dissatisfaction with, my latest project. I tried soldiering on and I was just getting miserable. I decided for pretty much the first time ever to just put it aside, potentially never to be seen again.... we'll see.

Then I had to find my mojo again and boy was that hard. But I knew what I wanted to craft. I wanted a cardigan. A variegated green, hand-dyed/artisan yarn cardigan. So I got this...

Oh the squidgy awesomeness of this yarn. Sooooooooo soft (100% merino superwash wool) and so vibrant. It defines perfection.

And I'm gonna knit this...


Isabell Kraemer's Caramel cardigan. Entirely my kind of cardigan - one that makes you feel you've been wrapped in a lovely warm blanket or even a hug. I just won't be doing stripes. The variegated yarn will give me all the texture and interest I need.

Hopefully the endless stockinette will be just the balm my soul needs right now - mindlessness and rhythmic meditation instead of constant stitch counting and concentration (hello Fazie, I'm looking at you). I got no space in my tired brain for that right now (who was it that thought working, studying, caring for my family, crafting and sleeping could all fit nicely into my life?). Can't wait to get started.

I also finally got all I need together to make my New York Cape. Seriously peeps, this pattern has been sitting in my stash for over 2 years. It's about time.

Check out this delicious wool coating from The Fabric Store.

If you can't tell, I am obsessed with warmth and cosiness right now. I'm not much of a winter person.

How about you? Winter or Summer? Does anything weird happen to your mojo in either season?

And now I'm off to wind those skeins into knit-able balls.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

S.O.S. Someone send me a lifeline!

Do you allow UFOs into your life??

Don't worry, this is not some extra-terrestrial, sci-fi loving post. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

No, I'm talking Unfinished Objects of the project kind.

This sweater is fast making me want to throw it into a UFO pile.

Recently I encountered this problem in the process of knitting the front/back of my sweater.

The mother of all holes smack bang centre front.


And yes it took me several more inches of knitting to even discover this monstrosity.

Dropped stitch? Nup, all stitches accounted for.

The most frustrating annoying yarn known to man? Yep, that'd be it. See how you can see the stitch, it's just super fine? That's partly user error and partly the most annoyingly thick-and-thin yarn ever. This is already a lace-weight yarn (even though it often listed as DK, and it's recommended to use DK sized needles) and over the differently dyed lengths of yarn the thickness does vary. Particularly in that light grey yarn where the hole appeared. The grey lengths are particularly fine.

I truly do not know how I missed this, but miss it I did and a solution was needed.

Call in the lifeline!

In knitting, a lifeline is a temporary thread inserted through a row of stitches below an error. It "holds" those stitches so you can remove your needle/s and rip back past the error in order to fix it. This means you don't risk dropping any stitches and totally making a mess of your work. When you rip back to the lifeline row you simply pick all those stiches back up onto your needles and start knitting again.

I used waxed dental floss for my lifeline. Yep, dental floss. It works really well as the floss is finer than the yarn being knitted and has a bit of body - this means it doesn't simply collapse  and go all floppy when holding the stitches, making it much easier to slip your needles back in.

You can see its "body" in the shot above.

It can be a little difficult to pull out after you've reinserted your needles as it can snag or stick to the yarn due to its waxed properties, but it's well worth using and I've had greater success with this than using regular sewing thread or a contrasting coloured yarn.

This sweater is still making me feel like UFO-ing it. It really is.

I purchased this pattern and yarn in a rush of newfound adoration. So pretty... so cropped/high waisted! I don't do high-waisted! I'm long-bodied and a low-slung hipster wearing girl! I'm lengthening the body by 2 inches and its still looking short.

I've had several problems with the lace sections for totally unknown reasons and tinking (un-knitting) this yarn is a bitch. It kind of felts and gets sticky and makes the process thoroughly miserable. This sweater is taking forever!!!

I've only had one UFO in all the years I've been sewing/knitting. I was working on a gorgeous vintage dress from the 1950's, with acres and acres of material (it was one of those awesome swooshy skirted ones) when it all went terribly wrong...

I cut right through the centre front bodice whilst serging some seam allowances. *GASP*. There was just so much fabric to handle! I was rushing along! It was the most heartbreaking moment of my sewing life...

I ran screaming from the room and didn't return for several days. On return I sadly bundled up my half finished dress and shoved it in the back of a cupboard. I can't bear to look at it.

I have no room in my life for more UFOs. Finish this I will.

Do you have a pile of UFOs sitting shame-facedly in a cupboard somewhere or do you finish everything you start?

Sunday, 11 May 2014


Sometime recently I simply ceased to buy any RTW outerwear. Let's make this clear, it wasn't purposeful, it was insidious. It kinda crept up on me. I used to love nothing more than trawling the nearest giant shopping mall. Now I can imagine nothing worse. I never seem to find quite the right thing and between fights for parking and dragging a 4 year old around, it's not my idea of fun - at all.

That's not to say I won't buy RTW again, it's just been a while. I will seriously have to master pants/jeans soon if it's going to last as I live in jeans all winter.

If I was to avoid hitting the nearest shopping centre, I decided it was time to start making some cake. Well, as near to cake as I make. My perception of cake is mix-and-match, plain dyed neutrals, kinda boring but necessary. I don't do cake, not even RTW cake. I like frosting. Not necessarily sequins and feather boa frosting, but bright prints and statement fabrics. Jeans are definitely my default cake base for my frosting in winter.

Remember I was undertaking Colette Pattern's Wardrobe Architect project?? I lasted about 4 weeks into the project, not really doing the homework but reading the pieces and realised I am doing totally fine. EVERYTHING I make I wear. I enjoy all of it and mix and match be damned. And accessories? My printed fabrics are my accessories. It took me a while to recognise that. I don't "do" accessories in the traditional sense (necklaces, bangles, bracelets, earrings, scarves etc). I feel too fussy when I try to incorporate accessories. Weirdly I threw on a necklace and my ubiquitous hair flower today. Weird.

This is the Mandy Boat Tee from Tessuti Fabrics, made up in a gorgeously drapey 60% cotton/40% modal jersey knit.

I love me a free pattern! I already made up the free Fave Top pattern quite sometime ago and am quite the fan. I have worn it to death and you can kinda tell. The fabric was a viscose elastane blend and even after taping the shoulder seams it really did stretch out quite a bit over time, making it look a little tired. It also has a slash/boat neck and it has stretched so much it's turned into a not-so-desirable off-the-shoulder number.

Knowing the potential, for neckline stretch I actually removed 1.5 inches from the centre front and centre back of the pattern, bringing the neckline in a whole 3 inches total and it sits perfectly without showing off the bra strap.

I reinforced the shoulder seams by sewing cotton tape into the seam allowance. I also hemmed it about 1.5 inches shorter and might lengthen it a tad next time.

I had to cut this out flat. The print on this fabric was sooooooooo off grain as to be a bit cray cray. I just couldn't fold and cut the fabric and have any hope of the stripes coming out right. I simply traced off the cut-on-the-fold pattern and taped the front and back halves together and cut them on the un-folded fabric.

I did something even more naughty as well and cut according to the stripes of the print instead of in line with the "grainline" (I'm not even convinced it had one). I really thought it was all going to go to hell, but it seems to hang and drape just fine. We'll see after a few washes.

So it's an okay top. It didn't turn out quite how I expected. The Fave Top is just a bit edgier and more interesting. I get that the Fave Top is voluminous and sometimes gets in the way as a result but this one is simply a bit "blah". Hence to me it is very cakey.

It'll get worn though as we all need our own versions of cake in our wardrobes. And I can always make things more interesting by wearing it with my locally designed and made locket.

Happy Mother's Day to all you awesome Mums! Hope you are having as lovely a day as I am!