Long, Dry January

I don’t make New Year resolutions or set myself lists of targets or challenges – I don’t like the pressure.  I don’t need it.  That doesn’t mean, however, that I don’t randomly decide to do things that stretch me a bit.

For instance, I made a pair of jeans recently that stretched me but, ironically, didn’t stretch enough themselves to fit me comfortably.  As you know, I’m making a coat at the moment which is also promising to be a challenge but, hopefully, will fit me at the end of it.

I also decided to do Dry January again which is a challenge every year and I’m sure they add extra days to the calendar. (For those who are not overly concerned by alcohol related matters, this means not a drop to pass my lips throughout the month of January 😱).  I did briefly consider continuing the abstinence forever but, as I found myself literally counting up how many days were left until 1st February when I was out walking the dogs the other morning, I really don’t think that’s going to happen.  It’s been harder this year as Mr. Tialys didn’t join in so I’ve had to watch him glugging sipping  a glass of wine with his dinner while I’ve noticed that both the frequency and quality of my kitchen dancing has deteriorated since the 31st December.

Anyway, back to the crafting.  I spotted a new yarn by Rowan the other day and also a lovely book of patterns using the yarn designed by Martin Storey.  I fell in love with this cardigan and decided to ditch the hook for a little while and take the needles up again.

My last knitting projects were a pair of socks knitted on a teeny circular needle and a cabled blanket knitted on a massive circular needle.  It felt strange to be holding a pair of needles again and even stranger to contemplate working from a chart.  I usually prefer written instructions and have actually translated the first couple of rows but I think, once I’ve got those under my belt, I’ll be able to just go with the chart.

The beautiful yarn used is Rowan Moordale with is made with British wool and alpaca – however, it costs around £16 for a 100g skein which would make this cardigan cost almost £100.  I baulked at that a bit – especially since I haven’t knitted anything this complicated in a while.  The patterns says ‘expert knitter’ which, although I’ve been knitting since I was knee high to my mother, I’m not sure is how I’d describe myself.

I recently found a site called Yarnsub which will suggest alternative yarns to use if you can’t afford/can’t find/don’t like the one specified by the pattern.  They grade the suggested alternatives by taking into account the density, the ply, the appearance, the cost, etc. and put them in order of suitability.  One of the top ones in this case was a Bergère de France yarn called ‘Lima’ which has the same amount of wool (though French rather than British)  and alpaca and the same ‘haze’ on the finish.  Lima comes in 50g balls – as opposed to the 100g Moordale skeins so I needed to buy double the amount, with a little extra just to be safe.   I went on the Bergère de France site and found Lima to be discontinued so they had it on sale for half price – only £2.20 for 50g which means, if I ever finish it, it will cost me less than a third.  You’ve got to love the internet at times like these.

This is the colour I’m using, it’s a muddy kind of green called ‘Mangrove’ which sounds horrible I know but I think it’s a colour that will be useful as it will make a change from the greys and blues I usually go for.

As I had purchased the pattern book, and there’s some other nice items in there, I went back online and bought some more Lima in a blue colour.  I’m thinking about using it for this one but Mr. Tialys says it looks like it’s been put in the wash and shrunk.

Personally, I like the cropped body, but do you think it would spoil the style if I made the sleeves full length?  I will have plenty of time to make a decision as I don’t anticipate finishing the heavily cabled cardigan before next autumn – it’s not one I can do in front of a Netflix box set that’s for sure.

There is a baby on the way in the family though (for my niece) and I can crochet a stripey blanket while immersed in real life crime stories or a drama that manages to drag on for 24 episodes or so.  I’m using the ‘Little River Blanket’ pattern again but, as I am reliably informed by my sister and  Cathy who is given very particular instructions when knitting for her grandchildren, grey is on trend for the tot about town.  Who would have thought it?

I can’t possibly make it all in grey though – even if those greys are in slightly different shades.  I’ve got two big packs of cotton yarn – one 50g ball in each colour of the Paintbox range and also, in my stash, some sunny yellow Rowan cotton yarn which I thought I’d use for the first and last rows, and the highlight on every 5th row as stated in the original pattern.

This is it so far.  I’m intending to switch subtly between grey through lilac through duck egg blues – don’t know about the middle yet – then repeat in the opposite direction for the other end.  The gender of the baby is unknown. The niece might consider the yellow too bright.

If it’s not ‘baby appropriate’ by the time I’ve finished it, I will still like it myself and I’ll just have to whip up a quick baby hat or something for the niece’s baby as it’s due in February some time.

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Tight Lipped Tuesday #6

I’m making a coat – my first ever.


This coat has welt pockets and I’m very much hoping the hardest part is over.

If only you could see them I think you’d be impressed.

 

 

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Scrappy Doo January

This post has nothing to do with that annoying little nephew of Scooby Doo but I couldn’t resist the title as there are both scraps and a dog.

A friend of a friend bought an old textile factory in our local town which used to be a centre for the textile industry in days gone by.  In fact, the one remaining working factory still produces upholstery for the automotive industry near and far.

The friend of a friend is converting the old factory into offices and is clearing out all the remaining bits and pieces. The friend didn’t want to see the stuff going to the dump so asked people she knows who sew and craft generally if they wanted to take some of it.  I have a few rolls of quite fine, plain coloured, slightly stretchy stuff I’m not sure what I’m going to do with but I also got some of these sample cards.

I have a sort of ‘woollen quilt’ in mind which I could achieve by cutting the rectangles into squares – there’s even some teeny squares showing the different colours that were available in each pattern – any ideas what I could do with those?

I wondered if I could extend my range of dog collars and make a sort of ‘Country Walks’ selection by covering the webbing totally in the wool mix fabric.  I had to join two lengths together and, instead of sewing the resulting band to the top of the webbing only – as I do with the ribbons and tapes I generally use – I made a tube of the fabric and threaded the webbing through so it was completely enclosed.  All the fabric has a slight stretch to it – possibly as it was produced for car seats – so worked well for this but not sure what implications that would have for a quilt.  Although it would probably be more a blanket than a quilt.

Here’s what I came up with

and here’s Stan doing a grand job of modelling it.

He is my own personal product tester and not nearly as annoying as Scrappy Doo.

Joining in again this month with Kate & Gun’s monthly Scraphappy Day where you too can use your scraps of fabric, yarn, paper, wood, anything to make something useful or lovely or both and show it off to the world.  You don’t have to join in every month, only when you have something to show.  Details and a list of other participants’ scrappy endeavours over on Kate’s blog.

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Never Say Never (Again)

With apologies to James Bond for nicking the title of one of his films, regular readers will know there are certain things I have vowed never to do.  In the sewing arena this included never bothering to make a pair of jeans.  I don’t have any problems getting ready to wear jeans to fit me properly so I couldn’t see the point and, anyway, what a faff!

In the end though, I couldn’t resist the challenge – I wanted to prove to myself I could do it so I bought some grey marl denim and some ‘only just’ contrast thread – not brave enough yet to do so much very visible top stitching – bought Closet Case’s Ginger Jeans pattern, measured the pieces against an existing pair of jeans that fit me well and off I went.

Curved front pockets – no problem (I’ve even lined them in a blue ditsy Liberty fabric just for fun).

Fly front complete with bar tacks- a doddle.

Back pockets – just a question of where to put them to enhance my ‘only just there’ bum.  This isn’t ideal placing but I had started to realise by now that these jeans were never going to be worn and I just wanted to get them attached and move on to the next bit.

I thought I might as well carry on until the bitter end and call them a muslin/toile/practice run – anything other than a complete waste of time.

So, I added the waistband, complete with fancy facing, put on the belt loops and a proper jeans button.

et voila!

All in all I have convinced myself I’m perfectly capable of making a pair of jeans with all the necessary bells and whistles.

If only they fitted me.

Totally my fault – the ‘denim’ fabric I chose has got hardly any stretch in it at all.  So, even though, when I hold them up to my favourite pair of shop bought jeans, they are exactly the same size, the lack of stretch means I can hardly bend my knees…..

….and sitting down for any length of time, if I could even manage it, might crush my internal organs.

I realised about mid-way, they were going to be too tight but it was good practice.  So, if you’re about to make jeans – they’re really not too difficult but just make sure you have the right fabric and practice your top stitching.

I think I’ll give them another go once I’ve got over the trauma and, when I do, I will be extremely picky about the denim I use.  Apparently, too much stretch is not good either so it’s a bit tricky and I’d suggest finding somebody who has made a successful pair (i.e. not me) and copy their choice of denim if possible.  If you’re in the U.S., this will not be a problem at all – in rural France it’s more difficult.

Just to be a bit more upbeat, the top I’m wearing with them is another Sewaholic Renfrew top – is there anybody out there who hasn’t got this pattern and swears by it?  I made this one using the cotton jersey I bought which had ‘Kid’s Collection’ or something similar printed down the selvedge.  Ask me if I care.

So that’s the jeans off my ‘never say never’ sewing list.

Next up is the coat.

My sewing friend Sandra and I are making this together (the unbelted version)  – or rather, we’re making one each but at the same time.  The cutting out of the interfacing was the worst bit so far.  I have a feeling those welt pockets are going to be nightmarish too and that is the point I’ve reached as of yesterday when we had our weekly sewing session.  Yes ‘weekly’ – and we spend the first hour yakking – so it might be some time before the finished article emerges.

So, that’s two sewing ‘never say nevers’ ticked off but, even though I did give in and buy a sparkly top over the festive season, I am still adamant that I am never, ever going on a sea cruise .

Have you ever said ‘never, ever’ to something – either in crafting or life in general – and then changed your mind?

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Tight Lipped Tuesday #5 – Putting My Second Best Foot Forward

I finally finished a pair of socks I started in Winter 2017.

These are the third pair of socks I’ve knitted which obviously didn’t help as I messed up a bit with these somewhere along the way.  They are, however, still wearable which is the main thing.

I spent a lot of time trying to match up the stripes until I realised it wasn’t possible with this yarn.

Mr. Tialys bought me this handy, and beautifully crafted, yarn bowl for Christmas.


With any luck it will help me get to grips with the shawl I’m trying to crochet which, as you can see, is slow to progress.

Although I doubt it.

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Festive Finishes – Did you Guess Correctly?

Firstly, thanks to everybody who kept their fingers crossed for the safe and timely arrival of the other half of the Tialys clan this Christmas.  It worked!!

As you know, secret sewing (and crochet) projects had been in progress for a little while leading up to Christmas and I can now reveal the results – both good and bad.

I had acquired some cute Peter Rabbit fabric and, as the quote says ‘Too Much Lettuce Makes Me Sleepy’, what else could I make but pyjamas?

I chose a New Look pattern I’d used before but only had enough to make the shorts.

I did have enough to make some bias binding though ….

…….and some white broderie anglaise in my stash so used the free Colette Sorbetto pattern to make a little top to complete the set.

That was Mlle Tialys the Elder sorted but what about the Younger?  Well, she’s a bit of a home body and sometimes wraps a blanket round her shoulders when sitting at the desktop.  I thought a shawl would be a bit more elegant so I downloaded the free pattern for the Grinda Shawl which is rather beautiful but, as I found out, more challenging than I expected as the yarn is finer than I’m used to using for crochet and the stitches more lacy.

This is as far as I got and that’s after frogging it on numerous occasions.

It soon became obvious I wasn’t going to finish it in time for Christmas.  I have since become more adept and no longer feel like flinging it in the nearest bin so, hopefully, it will be ready for her birthday in February.

In the meantime, I needed something quick and it was a good opportunity to use some fleece that has been taking up room in my stash for some time.

I didn’t have enough for a top and anyway, she would have looked like the Michelin Man with both pieces of the pyjamas in such thick fleece so I bought an RTW top in thinner fabric which matches well enough to make a set.

But‘, I hear you ask, ‘these projects don’t explain the mangled looking piece of fabric you showed us and asked us to guess what it was going to be.’

Well, Kate’s guess was the closest because she said – and I quote –  ‘is it one of those complicated lined garments where you turn it inside out through the shoulder seam?’

Yes! It is.

You join the inside and outside yokes together (I made the inside yoke in contrasting fabric), rolling up the fronts inside, like a burrito, and then pull it all out the right way.  It’s one of those magic things you can’t believe is going to work – until it does.

The fabric is a chambray and, as Mr. T. already has a dark blue shirt with a similar floral design, I was fairly confident he’d like it.  I used some scraps of Liberty tana lawn to face the inside yoke and the cuffs.

I was going to use ordinary buttons but thought pearl snaps would be a nice touch.  The installation of these was hit and miss as I hammered a bit too hard occasionally and, on my first try, didn’t line them up properly and had to take those on one side out again which was a bit scary.

I had made the shirt before as a short sleeved muslin so it was my first time making sleeve plackets and cuffs and I was quite pleased with how they came out.

I used the Colette pattern here and, as well as using their instructions which are very good, I followed a sew along over at Male Pattern Boldness which was also very helpful.

I feel as if my sewing skills have moved up a level over the past year or so.  Better late than never I suppose!

So much so that, next year – in another ‘never say never’ project – I am going to embark upon a coat.  Yes, you heard it right.  I know I said I’d never make jeans or a coat and, even though I haven’t shown you the jeans yet, as soon as I can get them on again after my Christmas indulgences, I will.

Mr. Tialys has not yet worn his shirt because I need to make an adjustment to the top stud which isn’t staying closed (heavy handed use of the hammer again probably) so, no photo of him but here’s Mlle T. the Elder sporting her new P.J.s and ending my final blog post of the year by wishing you all a very peaceful, prosperous, healthy, happy 2019 .

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Let The Festivities Begin

Remember a week or so ago when I was fretting that Mr. Tialys wouldn’t make it home because of various strikes and disruptions in the U.K. and France (but mostly in France).

I had run out of cut logs for the log burner, never used a chainsaw and not sure I want to start now.

I’d also got a Christmas tree outside but needed it bringing in and set up ready for decoration – it’s quite a big one.

Well, as you can see, he made it home but I was worried that, when he went back to the U.K., he would have difficulty getting back to France again because of the aforementioned strikes, demonstrations and general mayhem going on here at the moment.

Little did I think to worry about a drone (or drones) closing down Gatwick Airport for more than a day and causing travel chaos for thousands of people trying to get home to their families for Christmas.

There’s always something.  Last year the French air traffic controllers were randomly on strike.  Next year I’m going to insist he comes home a week early and stay here for the duration – I can’t stand the stress.

After rebooking himself and Mlle Tialys the Elder on a flight out of Heathrow (at vast expense) to make sure of arriving home in time for the festivities, including the now traditional dressing up of the dogs in festive manner, all is well,

Everybody’s here and we can relax.

I hope you are all able to be with the ones you want to be with this Christmas.

 

x x x

 

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Last ScrapHappy Day of 2018

In the face of an approaching cyclone, Kate is still hosting ScrapHappy day where you can use your scraps of fabric/yarn/paper/wood to make something – anything – and show it to the (blogging) World.

This time I made a crochet Christmas gift which isn’t a scarf.

I had some of this

and a box full of this

and made one of these for my friend Sandra

Hooks are model’s own 😉

Ooh, and I also made some of these with scrap fabric, wrapping paper and Christmas ribbon just because the mood took me when I was in my sewing room and it had to be done there and then, as is often the way with me.  Whether any will get sent is another matter – where is the time going?

Here’s a little scrappy project I received through the post yesterday from Claire, bless her,  which, if I ever get my tree up, will be hanging from one of the branches this year.

Meanwhile, nothing to do with scraps – although it certainly looks like it might be at this stage – my secret sewing gift is still underway and I’m hoping to have it done in time.

Here’s a sneak peek.

Any guesses?

 

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A Snuggle of Scarves

Following my ‘Flounce of Frocks’ when I made four or five dresses from the same pattern this Summer,  I thought I’d invent another collective noun for my bid to clothe all my nearest and dearest with neckwarming devices this Christmas in case it gets very chilly.  If there is already a collective noun for scarves I stand corrected but I couldn’t find one and, in any case, why on earth would there be?

The first one was taken from a free pattern by Little Monkeys Crochet here.  I say ‘taken from’ because I set off, momentarily forgetting that the U.S. and U.K. versions of the double crochet stitch are different and did it the U.K. way.  However, I rather like it in this slightly less chunky incarnation.

The second version was done with the correct U.S. version of the stitch which is actually double crochet into back of loop and such fat yarn that it took a whole ball to make each of the colour variation stripes you see.  I was going to make it all mustard – what is it with me and mustard at the moment? – but I underestimated the amount I needed and they didn’t have any left when I went back to buy more.  As you can see, the stitch and the super bulky as opposed to the ‘just bulky’ yarn make for a much more substantial version and more like the designer intended.

The third one is made with one of those cake yarns that change colour as you go along.  I adapted the Little River Blanket pattern to make a scarf instead.   ‘Adapted’ here is too grand a term for what I actually did which was to make it narrower and carry on until I ran out of yarn.

The last one is very girly and I found a free pattern for this infinity scarf which uses something called the ‘lemon peel’ stitch involving a mixture of single and double crochet.  Rather than try to twist it at the beginning and crochet with the twist already made as with scarves one and two, I just used a double (US single!) crochet to join the ends together once I’d finished crocheting and I think it looks much neater.  I didn’t twist it at all actually because it’s long enough to twist it round yourself if you so desire.

Like so

 

Sorry about all the shadows but it’s very hard to get good indoor photos at this time of year without faffing about much more than I (and my unwilling photography assistant) are prepared to do

I’m going to make another of the first ‘accidentally adapted’ ones in cream and possibly another of the pink lemon peel infinity scarf in a rather nice green they had in stock last time I looked but the shop I use has a very high turnover and when it’s gone it’s gone.

Did you notice I had another stab at the Tilly & the Buttons Nora top pattern using some French terry fabric this time which is much lighter and easier to wear than the heavy black 4-way stretch jersey I used last time (see last post).   I would like to say that I felt innovative and horizontal stripes are ten a penny so I wanted to be a bit different but, truth be told, the very limited stretch in this fabric goes horizontally across the stripe and, as the stretch needs to go across the body, the decision was made for me.

Have you been making multiple Christmas gifts of the same kind of thing for your friends and family? Do you have a collective noun for them?

 

 

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Sewing My Autumn/Winter Wardrobe Part One and a Half

Well, I started in autumn and now it’s winter – tempus fugit and all that.  Plus, I showed you a mustard coloured blouse I made a few posts ago which I counted as autumnal so that’s why this post is numbered one and a half.   Just in case you have nothing better to do than wonder about the title of a blog post.

Anyway, behind the scenes of patchwork reindeer heads, crochet dogs, aprons made from tea towels and other various makes, I have actually been doing some dressmaking with varying degrees of success.

I bought the two most recently published patterns by Tilly and the Buttons – ‘Nora’ a boxy shaped sweatshirt type of top and ‘Ness’ a denim style skirt – mostly because I didn’t have anything similar in my pattern library.  In the case of the top, there might actually be a reason for that.

I’m quite short and top heavy so, if I’m honest,  a cropped boxy shape with stepped hem is probably not ideal for me and I feel a bit swamped by the style.  To be fair, I used some very heavy 4-way stretch black fabric I had in my stash which doesn’t help with the swamping and it doesn’t really work with this top – in fact, I’m not really sure what it would work with.  I think I might have had a wrap dress in mind when I bought it but it’s so heavy it would probably be akin to wearing one of those weighted vests you can get to make you sweat a lot and lose weight which would be both exhausting and not very pleasant for anybody you were spending the day with.  Anyway, I might try the pattern again in some french terry or some lightweight sweatshirt fabric which I did intend to do, thinking I had some in my stash, but there wasn’t enough of it when I dug it out from the depths.

A long distance photo (because I’m not happy with it) but you get the general idea from that and the line drawing.

Surprisingly, I didn’t have a classic ‘denim style’ skirt pattern so the ‘Ness’ pattern seemed to fit the bill.  I went for somewhere between the mini and the midi length.  I used the shorten/lengthen line which is what you’re supposed to do but it seemed to result in a slight pouch around my bum which I could probably fill with one of those ‘make your bum look bigger’ appliances you put in your knickers – and Lord knows I need help in that area – but maybe I’ll just do more squats instead.  Next time, I’ll just chop the surplus length off the end.  Still in my ‘mustard phase’ I chose some corduroy to make it with – which looks more camel than mustard in the photos.  I chose corduroy despite a previous nightmare experience with some black cord which I now realise must have been very poor quality – I found it in a charity shop so who knows where it had been, or how long it had been there,  before it came home with me to wreak its black and dusty destruction on my sewing room.

On the other hand – probably because I paid more for it and it was new – this cord behaved very well with only minimal shedding and the skirt instructions – as is always the case with Tilly & the Buttons patterns – are very well written and illustrated.  It all went together very nicely and I used some contrast fabric for the pocket bags in a bit of a fancy touch that nobody will see unless they prise those pocket tops away from my body and peer inside which, I can’t really imagine anybody doing unless invited.   I was very pleased with the fly front which is my third to date as I made a pair of shorts a few years ago and, more recently, a pair of jeans which will not be discussed here yet as I am still not quite over the experience.

Unfortunately, with just the side seams to sew up, my last fitting showed I needed to come down one size at the waist and two at that hips which then caused a bit of bunching which hadn’t been there before. – mostly due to the fact that the pocket bags were all nicely stitched in place so there were multitudinous layers of fabric being taken into the seams which had been laying very nicely before I actually decided to make it fit me.

(I don’t know why that right hand pocket looks curved on the left bottom corner – it must be a trick of the camera – see below for proof!)

Never mind, it’s wearable but not as perfect as I thought it was going to be with all my nice felled seams, fly front and patch pockets.  Mr. T. even put some rivets on here and there.

I was going to tell you about another make in this post but I would think you’ve had enough by now so I’ll leave it until part 2 (2 and a half??) which will contain yet another mustard make and another corduroy skirt – can you see a theme?

In a complete change of subject in an effort to keep my non-dressmaking readers engaged, my blocks for the F2F block swap have already been received by Esther in the Netherlands (a swap partner a little nearer to home for December), so I thought I’d add two of those on the end to show you.

Esther chose colours to match her garden pots which are a mixture of soft greens, mint greens and grey blues.

This is my first ever Churn Dash block which is surprising only because it’s a really popular block in patchwork and I’ve never done one before.  I used the central square to show off a unicorn because any excuse to show off a unicorn has to be seized with both hands and a sewing machine.

This is the Zeppelin block I’m making for everybody in the swap as well as one for myself in the colours chosen each month so I’ll have another set of blocks needing assembling and quilting to add to the ones I already have 🤔

Back to the sewing room now to continue with a ‘secret sewing’ project I am hoping to have done in time for Christmas – if not, I’ll be joining up to Amazon Prime for a next day delivery emergency gift to go under the tree 🤞

 

 

 

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