Autumn cleaning – the fabric sale


I have had, for quite some time, the idea that a stashbusting website would be a marvellous thing.  Think Etsy but just for pre-loved fabric and yarn.  The AutoTrader of the fibre world, if you will.  But no knitted toilet roll covers or Ford Cortina’s allowed.

As that isn’t available, over the next few weeks, I’m going to be destashing here. Not just my stash, but also a selection of fabulous vintage fabrics kindly added to the pile by friends.  I need to clear space, both physical as I’m about to start doing a lot of decorating, and mentally to make headspace for my Autumn sewing plans.

There’s quite a bit of it.  So each week I’ll load up some of the pieces, with a description, cost and shipping charges.  If you’d like any of the fabric, just comment and I’ll send you a PayPal invoice and arrange for the fabric to wing it’s way to you.

The first week will be Prints and Plains – Modern Fabrics.

Week two will be Prints and Plains – Cotton and Linen.

Week Three will be Tweed Week.

Fairly self explanatory, I hope. There’ll be about a dozen or so fabrics in each of the first two weeks.  Slightly fewer in Tweed Week.

Each piece of fabric will be shipped in a sealed plastic postage bag.  Not only does this protect the fabric from water damage, but also keeps the weight, and therefore the shipping, costs down.

If you want more than one piece of fabric then I’ll happily bundle them together and get a revised shipping cost before invoicing you.

If you’d like me to hold onto a piece for you until all the fabric has been uploaded to avoid incurring additional shipping costs, again I’m more than willing to do that. Let’s face it, none of us want to spend more on postage than we absolutely need to.

All parcels will be shipped via Royal Mail.

I won’t be accepting any returns on this sale I’m afraid.  All fabrics are in excellent condition and from a smoke free home.  We do have pets but, as you can imagine, they aren’t allowed within sniffing distance of fabric (perish the thought!).

And one final thing.  At the end of each week when I load the new fabric up, I’ll remove the previous fabric post.  So if you like something, do let me know whilst the post is still up.

Now…I’d better get sorting, photographing and working out the postage.  Watch this space.

Build your sewing skills with Simplicity

If you’re a regular reader here you’ll know by now that I love a good sewing class or tutorial.  So when the lovely folk at Simplicity contacted me to ask if I’d like to tell you about their new Masterclass Webinars…well, how could I say no?

At the moment there are two, one featuring cushions, the other a tote bag.  They are, only short videos so you can easily watch them over a quiet tea break, but I think they could benefit from being slightly longer so that the editing is a wee bit smoother.

That said, these are perfect for beginner sewists who are looking to expand their repertoire.  There are more videos planned to follow on from these…a bridesmaids dress, inserting a zip, a table runner, and an apron masterclass, and I think these will also appeal to those of us who have a little more experience.

Even so, I’m always keen to see someone else sewing. You never know when you might learn a brilliant new tip that will either save you time or make your sewing look more professional, so these are definitely worth checking out.

This is the bag pattern used in the video:


I can think of so many uses for that bag….beach…baby…swimming at the pool…taking your knitting to Stitch ‘n’ Bitch…carrying your sewing to class…the list goes on.  It’s such a roomy tote.  And with the help of the tutorial, even a beginner sewist could tackle this project with confidence.

Also, take a look at that cute dress (which is drafted for wovens, btw).  Obviously it’s just a perfect everyday summer dress, but as the weather here is cooling down I can also easily see versions B and C in winter wools, layered over a polo neck sweater or crisp shirt, paired with cosy tights and boots.  Sew the tote in leather (faux or real, dependent on your nerve and budget) and it will take you through the winter months too.

Chic, no?

Oh, I’m glad you agree, because I’ve got two copies to give away.  Well, after all the knitterly love over the last week or so, how could I leave the seamstresses out of the fun?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

But if that doesn’t float your boat, do check out the Simplicity website, because they’ve got a half price sale on at the time of publishing this post.  That could be dangerous to the old bank balance.

Have fun either way!


SimplicityNewLook provided the patterns for this giveaway, but all opinions are my own.  And no…I’m not getting a commission for pattern sales either.  I just don’t see why I should be the only one with too many patterns landing on the doormat these days!

Simplicity 1606 – review

Simplicity 1606-1

It’s scandalous that it’s about a year since I received this pattern.  This review is well overdue!

I’ve spoken about the alterations that I made to the pattern, and can only reiterate that I really, really like this design and would definitely recommend it and suspect I’ll be making this one again! I can’t comment about the instructions, because I didn’t follow them.

I know…that’s no help to anyone!

The fabric, whilst lovely to look at, was a pig to sew.  Shifty, stretchy, just generally a nuisance and a right royal PITA.  It’s also pilling a little after just a couple of wears. Which is a pain and makes me glad this is a dress that I’m not planning to wear every day.

Even so…and taking into account the creasiness of this because it’s linen…I think this dress is definitely worth the hassle.

simplicity 1606-1-1

Although I’ve gained a significant amount of weight this year* this dress reminds me of the me that wore the Giverny dress.  That, my friends is a very good thing indeed.

Simplicity 1606-1-3

We had such a laugh taking these photos. The Husband and I were on our way to our favourite local Italian bistro for a romantic dinner a deux, and stopped en route at this picturesque archway, which is, in fact the entrance to a not particularly picturesque nursing home.

It is, however, on the main road through the village and caused much amusement and amazement on the part of passing motorists, as I posed by the wall and The Husband stood in the middle of the road, snapping shots like a veritable David Bailey.

I didn’t care…I was in the company of my gorgeous hubby, in a pretty frock, en route for a glass of wine and a bowl of lobster ravioli.

Simplicity 1606-1-4

That’s enough to make any girl smile!

*thank you very much, medication. I’m glad to see the back of you now.  And hopefully my toes in the not too distant future!

How to make damson vodka

damson vodka-1-5

When the husband and I honeymooned, Alice-who-isn’t-a-cat packed us a hamper full of goodies, including a bottle of sloe gin.  Then Lara Croft gave us a Christmas hamper full of fruit liquors that I can’t remember the names of but remember how much we enjoyed them.


My conversion to fruit liquors was complete so it was very odd that when my friend Linda picked me a bag of wild damsons last autumn  I planned to make jam from. But the way to hell is paved with good intentions and the damsons have lurked at the bottom of the freezer ever since.

Until today…when I saw sense and realised that what they really want to be is damson vodka.

If the damsons actually want to be jam, well it’s just hard luck, because they’re going to be vodka. I’ve been completely spoiled by the generosity of friends, and quite frankly, the weather has a wonderful and much anticipated autumnal nip to it at the moment that has me thinking of warming drinks that aren’t necessary tea.

At this point in proceedings I need to own up that I’ve never actually made the stuff…just happily slurped sipped a glass or two on a cold wintery evening to lubricate the knitting and ward off chills.  But I figured it couldn’t be that hard.

I was right.

Three ingredients.

damson vodka-1-3

Four if you count time.

Vodka.  Of course!  Although you could also use gin if you’re that way inclined.  It will be equally wondrous.

damson vodka-1-1

Damsons.  Or it would be plain ole “vodka”, amiright?

Note the soft, wrinkly skins…the freezer has done all the work and I don’t need to prick the little darlings.  Bonus!

damson vodka-1

Sugar.  I used good old fashioned caster sugar.

damson vodka-1-2

Put them all together in a the biggest Kilner jar you can find, sit back and wait.  And wait.  Aaaaaaand wait a wee bit more.

damson vodka-1-4

Oh, how creepy is that photo?

Hugh Fearnly-Whitingstall’s recipe tells me this will reap about 1.5 litres of damson vodka.

Time will tell.

CustomFit giveaway winner

Thank you again for all the comments on my CustomFit giveaway. I’ve really enjoyed reading about all the lovely knits you have planned. I think the needles are going to be very busy this autumn.

Sadly, there can be only one winner of free Amy Herzog design, and this time its Christine who said:

“I think I would design my own, but who knows.”

Congratulations, Christine.  Have fun with your new knit and do please pop back and let us know what you’ve chosen.  I’ve emailed the coupon code to you.

Happy knitting!

Favourite Amy Herzog designs…yours and mine

Wow…you guys…I’ve been blown away by your lovely, lovely comments on my Aislinn post. Thank you so very much.  The more you commented the more I thought it would be really cool to have a look at some of your favourite Amy designs…and the one’s that I’m contemplating knitting next.

But first, I’d like to say that the only reason I dislike these photos is because, as my darling husband so “gallantly” pointed out, I look like I’ve had one too many Jack Daniels’ and have found the nearest wall to slide down.

How rude…I never have too many to drink in the park!

Moving swiftly on!

Carol commented that she

“seriously considered the Aislinn, but I think I’m too straight up and down (not enough hip curves) to have it look the way I think it should on me”

Carol, I have absolutely no hip/waist ratio.  Boys have more hip curves than I do. Thankfully on my Aislinn there is the gentlest waist shaping at the back that helps me out no end and gives me the faintest illusion of a waist.  Hope that helps.

Now…the pretties.  I went all “hi-tech” and made a pie chart!**  The folk at Apple are quaking in their boots!

Amy Fave Sweaters

You can see that the most coveted designs, after an self-imagined sweater are*:

Both Cushing Isle and Cushman are on my radar.  I love this shape for a cardigan and I adore the stitch patterns used (but not in Rowan Tweed…I’ve learnt that lesson!).

I’m also loving these:

They are all so pretty and so very wearable.  But tippy top of my list at the moment are a sweater and a cardigan.

The cardigan will be a hip length Boyfriend cardigan with pockets and a v-neck, probably in a simple stocking stitch (stockinette).  The perfect basic, that doubles as a lightweight jacket but is casual enough to wear with jeans for a playdate in the park.  For this I’ll use the design-your-own feature.

And, to be fair, I had this in mind when planning what I want to buy at Yarndale later in the month…then Amy threw a spanner in the knitterly works by releasing her new pattern, straight into CustomFit!

I give you Seguin:



I cannot tell you how much I love this.  I’d do it hip length to wear with skinny jeans and boots.  I’m thinking navy and ivory…or maybe navy and a pearl grey.  I need to look at what’s available.  But I’m confident that this is the next thing I’ll be knitting for myself.

Or…maybe I’ll do both!

So, you’ve still got 3 days to enter the giveaway…don’t forget to let me know what design is your favourite.

* All photos used in this post are the property of Amy Herzog.  

** Snapshot of comments taken at 18.30 gmt on Friday 5th.  Obviously this is a moveable feast.

Aislinn – the finished garment and a giveaway!

At last…my Aislinn is finished and ready to be worn.  It seems to have been a very long journey since I decided to knit this cardigan.


But my timing is uncharacteristically perfect.  Over the last week the weather has started to hint at Autumn and yesterday, as we headed to the park for the last time before school starts again tomorrow, it was cool enough to wear her and snatch a few photos.


I’ll admit to not liking a single one of these photos, but even so I think these photos show what a beautiful cardigan this is and, more importantly, how well it fits.  You’ll find my review about the knitting/fitting process here.


The yarn is Rown Tweed and whilst it is very pretty and very soft (although it has a whisper of scratchiness that means I’ll always wear this over a sleeve), I’m slightly wishful that I’d picked a crisper yarn with better stitch definition.

Aislin_harebell_pigtailStill…I’ve worn this a couple of times over the last week and each time someone has commented on how lovely it is.  It’s a dream to wear…as you’d imagine from a garment that actually fits…and is perfect to throw on as a jacket replacement when playing in the park.  I do love it!

I can’t wait to make my next CustomFit garment.  I’m not sure what it will be…I’ve lots of knitting and sewing ideas in my head at the moment.  But I’m off to Yarndale at the end of the month so you know I’ll be buying some yarn there!

In the meantime, Amy and her lovely team have very kindly offered one lucky reader the chance to give CustomFit a try for themselves.  Just enter below and keep your fingers crossed!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


CustomFit by Amy Herzog – a review

The plasterers are plastering.

The kids are thankfully at a playscheme every day and grandparents for tea each evening (thank you grandparents…yet again I couldn’t do this without you!).

I am slowly losing the will with the mess, but have my eye on the prize and am going shopping for a new fireplace and possibly doors at the weekend.

All that aside, I finally have Aislinn blocking…I’m hoping she’ll be dry for the weekend, but it’s awfully soggy here at the moment, so it’s taking time. Whilst we wait for that I thought it might be a good idea to share my thoughts about the whole CustomFit experience.



I know that many folks have pondered whether the system works or not, and, in fact, HOW the whole thing works.  So here we go…I’ll try to explain.

What is CustomFit?

For those of you that haven’t come across CustomFit yet, Amy describes it as:

“CustomFit is a web application that will produce bottom-up sweater patterns tailored to your body’s measurements. That means: You put in your body measurements (just once) and knit a swatch (at least once). When you’re ready to create a sweater, decide what kind of fit you want (close, average, or relaxed), and either choose one of our “CustomFit Classics” or create an entirely new design. Select the body and swatch the design is for, and easy as that, you have a pattern!”

Sounds really straightforward, no? There has, however, been much confusion over some of the terminology. So, to clarify, here’s what you need to do:

How do I create my CustomFit version of one of Amy’s designs?

1) Decide which pattern you want to knit.  I’m assuming at this point it’s going to be one of Amy’s patterns.  If not, I’ll come back to that a wee bit later.

2) Log on to the CustomFit website and put in all the measurements listed.  Yes this takes a bit of time, but it’s most definitely worth it. And you only have to do it once!

3)  Next, you need to do the swatching.  I know, I know…but I’m totally converted to swatching after watching Amy’s Craftsy course.  I make bigger swatches and do different needle sizes to ensure that not only is the fabric coming up to the required tension (gauge), but also I like the fabric it’s creating.  Because if I don’t, now is the time to do something about it, not 3 months down the line when I’ve completed the garment.  Ask me how I know!

4) By now you’re ready to start building your customised knitting instructions for the design of your choice, so click on the design button on the home page.  Some of Amy’s patterns are already ready to go…you just need to follow the instructions on the page.  You’ll only need to add a few details and your customised pattern will be ready to print.

5) For the other patterns in the range you’ll need to buy the CustomFit recipe, which will give you all the information you need to complete the design process and produce your customised pattern.

Whichever way you go the process is really straightforward once you actually start popping numbers into the system.  I think the problem has been that this is a completely new way of purchasing knitting patterns, and as such has potentially confusing new terminology.

What if I want to use another designer’s design?

Good question!

My understanding is that Amy is hoping to encourage other designers to produce CustomFit recipes in the future.  Until then I would suppose that you can use the “Classic Silhouettes” or “Build Your Own From Scratch” functions to create a set of knitting instructions that would give you the basic shaping onto which you could superimpose the pattern from your chosen designer.

For example…

I’ve got my eye on Kate Davies’ Catkin sweater:


I could make a CustomFit pattern using the Scoop Neck Pullover template


and then use Kate’s Pattern for the rib lengths and cable design.

Does that make sense?

Isn’t it an awfully bloody expensive way to buy a knitting pattern?

Another really good question…to which my answer is “yes” and “no”.


Amy’s standard knitting patterns are $7.00 each.  A CustomFit pattern + CustomFit Recipe is $12.50.

That’s a 75% increase in the cost of the pattern, which is a pretty hefty number if you’re just looking at numbers.


  1. You don’t have to do any knitting math.
  2. If you’re anything like me you’re going to spend quite a bit of your life knitting this garment…you want it to fit at the end of it.
  3. You don’t have to do the math…I’d sell my wallpaper scraping mother to avoid having to do knitting math!
  4. Even at $12.50 it’s comparable to an Indie sewing pattern, and you’d still have to do the fitting on the sewing pattern!
  5. Did I mention the math…or lack of it?

For me, that extra $5.50 (which, FYI, is roughly equivalent to one large Frappuccino Light) is money very, very well spent that saves me much head scratching and cussing, and let’s me get to the fun bit, the knitting, as quickly as possible.

Obviously, the key question is…

Did it work and does it fit?

Yes (bar two minor hiccups) and yes!

Minor hiccup number one was setting the lace pattern on the front.  It took full consultation of my knitterly friends over coffee and cake to resolve it, so I’m putting that one down to instructions that could have done with a little more clarity.  That said, it wasn’t an insurmountable problem, just potato/potahto!

Hiccup number two was entirely down to me.  I merrily input my measurements into the programme, cast on and knit away on the back of the cardigan, only to realise that I’d actually put two much length into the mix and the finished garment wouldn’t look how I wanted it to look in the end.

So I ripped it back a bit and made a quick adjustment (that even my math phobic brain could deal with because the CustomFit pattern not only gives you the length of the bit your currently knitting (eg back length…knit until work measures X”) but also the number of rows (eg back length….knit X rows).  I can most assuredly count rows and jot them down on a piece of paper!

The key thing is that pre-blocking, I tried the Aislinn cardigan on and she fits like a dream.

Assuming I’ve not buggered that up with the blocking, you’ll be able to see the finished thing very soon and judge for yourself?

Would you use CustomFit again?

Absolutely!  I’m of too Yarndale in September and am planning to purchase yarn for a couple of Amy’s designs, yet to be decided, to keep me in stitches over the winter months.

Things to bear in mind

At the moment CustomFit only does women’s patterns and designs that are knit flat and seamed.  It’s my understanding that at some point an option to create men’s patterns will be introduced, and also designs knitted in the round…but I don’t have any more information on that at the moment.  It’s just a case of “watch this space”, I think.

Cue another “thank you”…this time to Liz who whipped my knitted pieces away and in the blink of an eye had them seamed up into a cardigan with the most beautiful and invisible mattress stitch.

Unexpected upside!

Astonishingly, and unexpectedly, the success of this pattern has made me even more keen to get to grips with fitting knits (which dovetails nicely with the work I’m currently doing on upping my sewing fitting skills).  Whilst my next couple of knits will definitely be Amy’s designs, I’ve ordered a pile of books from the library to check out which I want to spend my cash on…all on the topic of fitting and altering knits.

Fitting is my new obsession, and I’m not remotely sorry! ;-)

I do hope this all makes some sort of sense to you, and that it’s made the CustomFit offering a little more accessible, because I do think it’s a really great option to have available to us knitters. Please do leave a comment with any questions you might have.  I’m by no means an expert in this but I’ll do my best to answer.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I haven’t received any recompense or reward from Amy Herzog or her team in return for this review. In fact I actually bought the CustomFit recipe, CustomFit pattern, AND the standard pattern, thus paying completely over the odds, mainly because I’m an idiot!.  All opinions expressed in this article are entirely my own.

Images used throughout are shamelessly borrowed from Kate Davies Designs and CustomFit with much gratitude.

Stripping and other activities!

Lord knows what kind of hits I’ll get with a title like that, but it sums up the activity Chez Stitches this week.

After quite a lengthy hiatus since the rewire, we are finally in a position to commence some work that actually feels like we’re making a start on the renovations.

This week it’s all about getting the wallpaper off.

Unfortunately I can’t wield a stripping knife at the moment due to a ridiculous problem with my neck and shoulder for which I’m awaiting physio.  But when I was asking around to find someone to come and do the work for me, Ma and her bestie Pauline volunteered.

Now, I’m not good at accepting help at the best of time, but having my Mum and her chum stripping wallpaper wasn’t a scenario that was going to break that trend.  Seriously…how could I accept?

Except that they are both strong willed ladies and weren’t taking no for an answer.

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So, I have spent this week slacking in the background doing tea and sustenance, aaaaaaaand…they have worked away like demons getting the walls ready for the plasterer who arrives on the 11th to skim the sitting room and hall/stairs/landing.

Ma and Pauline…you are superstars.  Enjoy your night out tomorrow…you deserve it!


In other news….Aislinn is knitted and sewn up.  She looks lovely and I can’t wait to do the review on her and get some pics.

But first I have to summon the courage to do an afterthought buttonhole.

Or unpick the whole thing and rip the front back to about 2″ above the rib.

That’s not happening any time soon.


Tomorrow, whilst The Husband does more wallpaper stripping in the hallway (thanks honey), I’m slacking off again and heading off to Bambers in Manchester for another day of sewing with the rather marvellous Celia Banks.  By the end of the day I’ll have a fitting shell (skirt/bodice/sleeve) all done and ready to go with a list of adjustments to transfer to other patterns, and a pattern for a pair of cigarette trousers also fitted, with a corresponding list for other trews patterns.  I’m very excited about this.  I think it’s going to help me in the quest for better fitting clothes for myself, and give me a structured approach to fitting that has been sadly missing!


We are now two weeks into the summer holidays and are still taking it very slowly. Today has been a perfect pyjama day…all snuggled up in a pile watching back to back movies (during which we managed to avoid Frozen…result!) and nibbling snacks.

Next week the kids are out at football club every day, so I’ll have a bit of time to get that buttonhole made and sew up a second playsuit that is cut and ready to go.  So I hope I’ll have some pretties to share with you soon.

In the meantime…have a great weekend.  And my top tip for the day is don’t throw stones at walls….

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Apparently they bounce and slice your head open!  Thankfully she’s fine.  I, on the other hand, aged about 10 years in 20 seconds!

Pleated Playsuit with Cattitude


Pleated playsuit catitude-1We’re one week into the summer school holidays and revelling in the complete lack of commitments to anyone but ourselves.  Leisurely mornings give way to afternoons in the park or playing in the garden or visiting with grandparents.

Obviously crafty pursuits aren’t my priority, but even so, I managed to whip up this little playsuit for Button, which is the perfect outfit for the hot weather we’ve been having here of late.

The pattern is Elegance & Elephant’s Pleated Playsuit…a free pattern that you’d happily pay good money for.

Pleated playsuit cover

I love Heidi’s patterns, as you know, and this one is no exception. There are some adorable details:

:: elastic waist for comfort and faux piped pocketsPleated playsuit catitude-1-1

:: cute leg cuffsPleated playsuit catitude-1-2

:: shoulder tiesPleated playsuit catitude-1-3

:: inverted pleat on the front bodicePleated playsuit catitude-1-4This is one of those fabulously satisfying makes that is super simple to sew, but looks very expensive when you’ve finished.

The fabric is Lizzie House’s Cattitude which Button had loved so much when I made the Geranium dress, but this time in an almost acid chartreuse bought on sale from John Lewis.  I’d been browsing there a couple of weeks ago with no intention of purchasing fabric, but as soon as I saw this I snaffled the last metre or so with glee.

Pleated playsuit catitude-1-5

I’m so glad I did.  I just adore this little playsuit and have at least two more planned. It’s comfy, cute and modest.

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What more could you ask for?