Saturday, 27 March 2010

End of term

Ds was very excited at school last week to be tackling a sewing project. This is only the second time he has sewn anything at school. Textiles does not seem to feature much in the UK primary curriculum.

Previously, in Foundation stage (age 5), he made a fabric picture of a ladybird, which now hangs in pride of place in our hallway. It was mostly cutting and gluing, with a few stitches. This time, the task was to make a felt glove-puppet. As the Easter holidays were about to start, ds sewed an Easter bunny:

Maybe the ears could have been a bit bigger, but look at the lovely neat stitching, especially considering ds is only seven and still in the infants' class!

I'm pleased ds had such a positive reaction to sewing, and also he did not dismiss it as "just for girls". As I have unfortunately heard some little boys do.

Ds has a very wide range of interests. He is planning a trip with his dad to the British Museum in the Easter holidays, to look at the Saxon hoard. Also, he just got his ju-jitsu red belt. Here he is demonstrating one of his moves:

We're very lucky to have him around!

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Retro apron

This weekend, I sewed this retro apron. The pattern was the Pocket Apron in Sew Hip issue 15. I used fabrics from the new Amy Butler "Love" range.

I found no errors in the instructions, except I feel the waist ties are rather long at 115 cms (45 ins) each. I know long ties are helpful, in case the wearer wants to wrap the ties right round and tie them at the front (as worn in the photo above), but if I made this pattern again, I would cut the waist tie pieces 1 metre (39 ins) long at the most.

The stated yardage requirement was 2 yards (1.8m) of main fabric and 1.5 yards (1.4m) of contrast. But I found I had a lot of fabric left, so you probably don't need to buy as much fabric as this. Based on what I actually used, I suggest you actually need 1 metre of fabric for the front and pocket, and 140 cms max of fabric for the back and ties.

For the front, I cut the apron front and two pocket pieces out in 100 cms (39 ins) of Paradise Garden. For the other pieces, I actually used 115 cms (45 ins) of non-directional Sunspots fabric, but that was with 115 cms waist ties. If I was making the pattern again, I'd cut the waist ties only 100 cm long so would only need 1 metre of fabric, if it was a non-directional print. If it was a directional print, and all pieces had to be cut on the horizontal, I calculate you would actually need 140 cms.

I found the most efficient way to cut the pieces out on a non-directional print was like this (not to scale, and please excuse my attempt at a graphic; I have no training in this area!):

The apron is a birthday present for someone who had better be nameless, just in case she's reading this.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Fabric love

It's been knit, knit, knit ever since December on this blog. I haven't sewn a thing since before Christmas, and I'm feeling the lack of it. So I went fabric shopping yesterday.

I sighed over the new Amy Butler "Love" range which has arrived in John Lewis. I bought 3m. I was trying to keep costs down, so I only bought a little of the tangerine rose design, but it is so lovely, I might have to go back for more. There were also new rolls of tie-dyed batiks, which I looked at admiringly but I thought I'd got enough fabric for one day.

Come back soon and I might have made something out of it. :-)

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Regatta Finish

I've finally finished my Regatta stole! *cries with happiness*
Yes, a mere ten months and 800m of laceweight yarn later, at last it's a Finished Object. This also means I've achieved one of this year's resolutions - to finish at least one of the four items sitting on my "languishing" list as of 1 Jan.

Here is the FO:

Here's a closer shot of the lace pattern:

The red towel is not the best background to a pink shawl, but I took that photograph whilst it was blocking. Quite a lot of dye ran when I washed it and I didn't want to trash one of my white ones.

The pattern was originally published in Yarn Forward magazine issue 11, and is now for sale as a ravelry download (Ravelry log-in required). I used just over a skein of Supreme Lace yarn by Yarnaddictanni - a mix of 30% mulberry silk and 70% merino wool.

This was the first lace pattern I ever attempted and to be honest I found it hard, but I think that was my inexperience of working lace rather than the pattern itself, which was well written and included simple-to-follow charts. I found no pattern errors but in my opinion, it would have benefited from a more explicit instruction that it was in garter stitch.

Things I liked about this project:
  • The finished item. I love it! I never wore, or even owned, a knitted lace item before. I chose the yarn colour to go with a dress, and I expect to have at least two opportunities to wear it this summer - weather permitting.
  • The forgiving nature of lace, which means the many errors I made in it seemed to become less noticeable with blocking.
Things I learned from this project:
  • The value of using a lifeline in a complex lace pattern. I did not learn this until half-way through the border, but after that, was able to correct mistakes relatively easily - whereas before, my efforts to undo rows only introduced more errors, as it was too hard to identify and pick up the yarnovers. If I ever do another lace project, I'll make sure I put a lifeline at the start of every repeat, moving it up each time I successfully complete one.
  • How to wind a skein into a ball using two dining chairs. If only I'd known this before I tried to wind the first skein, and ended up with 724m of laceweight yarn tangled on my dining room table! It took me and dh the best part of three days to untangle it. Afterwards, I had good advice from Ravelry members and since then, I've found ball-winding quite simple.
Things I really didn't like about this project:

  • Making all the errors. You would think someone with years of knitting experience could knit a few lace rows with no mistakes [sigh].
  • My son heard a couple of bad words in the process, but he knows I was very naughty to say those words and I don't usually say them!
I think I'll steer clear of lace for a while now, to allow me to fully recover from the Regatta experience. But I would not rule it out in the future. After all, I have the best part of a skein of Supreme lace now in my stash.

Saturday, 13 March 2010


I hesitated over using this title, as it's still rather cold in the Trent Valley, considering it is mid-March. Ordinarily our japonica would be in bloom by now, and the daffodils would be coming out: neither of those are flowering yet, but we do have crocuses and snowdrops. And even though there are not many flowers in the garden, I have some in the house. After all, it is mother's day weekend here.

In preparation for the coming Spring, we have started seed potatoes chitting in our garage (note re-purposing of old egg-boxes.)

And like other UK bloggers, I'm also mildly encouraged by being able to hang out washing to dry in the sunshine:

In winter, our washing has to be draped on an indoor line, causing a minor eyesore in our bathroom. However, I'm opposed to the tumble dryer solution on sustainability grounds (not to mention the interests of our electricity bill) and since we previously got through several years of cloth nappy use without one, I think we'll be able to manage!

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Coursework Deadline Alert

I had hoped to finish my shawl this weekend, but instead, I was forced into the job of GCSE Art Textiles Coursework Deadline Assistant.

Note dd in above pic still wearing dressing gown at 3pm. She didn't even take time out to get dressed!

Obviously, I don't do dd's coursework for her, so my role was limited to sewing machine tech support, sewing advice, and general encouragement/motivation. I also made copious cups of tea.

To be honest the GCSE burden is starting to turn me into a nervous wreck, so goodness knows how 14 & 15 y.o's cope under the strain.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

The joy of Finished Objects

I've had a super-productive year in knitting so far, with four items completed by the end of February - as many FOs as I managed in the whole of 2009, so it really is quite magnificent progress. I just hope I can keep up the pace.

I've actually started knitting my Regatta shawl again too, and worked round the first corner of the border. I've been spurred on by belonging to a Ravelry group which this month, is encouraging the completion of a long term WIP. Not sure I'll actually achieve that by the end of March, but I'll have a go.

I get most of my knitting chat fix on Rav, and on various blogs, but it's nice to meet a knitter in real life occasionally. So I went to knitting group this week. There was only one other person there, but it was good to see someone else's knitting (lovely fingerless gloves using Manos del Uruguay).

The downside of all this knitting activity is, I haven't sewed a thing since December. Sew Hip issues 13 and 14 did not have any patterns that appealed to me, although they have tempted me horribly on the new fabric front. I did idly look in the newsagent at the sewing magazine titles recently, and was pleased to see Sew mag has listened to my complaints and is no longer for sale in a sealed plastic bag. But when I flicked through this month's copy, I put it back again, as there was nothing in it that looked worth making.