The socks of incredible gaudiness

As the weather isn’t playing ball for pictures of Miss Button in her new mummy-made garments, I took advantage of the grey skies to tone down the incredible gaudiness of these socks.

It worked!  In this picture they look positively subdued!

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This is what they really look like.

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That pink makes your eyes water in bright light!

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We recently had an interesting conversation with Anne at our LYS, & Sew What, about men and colourful socks.  Her experience is that younger men prefer a more sober sock, sticking with plain or only slightly variegated yarns, whilst more mature men love the more colourful, wildly striped yarns.

The husband bucks this trend as he’s hardly an older chap but the more bold the colour combination of the yarn, the more it appeals to him.

Hence, these sunglasses-inducing lovelies.

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There is a small part of me that’s convinced he chooses such combinations as he knows I’ll be knitting as fast as my fingers allow, just to get them off the needles and onto his feet. But he’s such a sweetheart, so that couldn’t possible be the case.

Could it?


Life in a northern town – June 2016

I cannot believe it’s a month since my last post! Life here has been so unbelievably busy that the days are just flying by.  Thankfully it’s all good busy, but it’s busy nonetheless.

The house move is progressing.  Hopefully not much longer now.

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The kids are dancing up a storm so dance classes now take up quite a bit of our time.

I’ve had a very, very big birthday.

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I’ve finished the first year of my accountancy qualifications.  And passed.

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And I’ve been knitting and sewing, but haven’t got a single finished garment photo for you yet.

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I’m hoping to get time to take a breath and get some photos soon.  I’ll try not to take another month to do so!


Lemongrass

I LOVE this sweater.

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I love the colour.  I love the yarn.  I love the pattern.  I love the fit.  I love every. single. thing. about it.

Lemongrass_2The pattern is Lemongrass by Joji Locatelli and it is a complete joy to knit. It’s a beautifully written pattern and I can’t recommend it enough.  I had no project fatigue with this at all.  I’d happily knit it again tomorrow!

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That cable!  Looks complex…is easy enough to knit in front of the TV!

I couldn’t find buttons to match this yarn.  It’s not quite blue and not quite purple. So I stitched up the buttonholes and the sides together.  Problem solved.

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The yarn is Malabrigo Merino Worsted in the colourway Azul Bolita and the pictures do not do it justice at all.  It’s deeply saturated and gently variegated.  It’s soft and squishy and has beautiful drape. It’s a truly joyous yarn.

Be warned…it leaks colour like a mad thing whilst you’re knitting it.  I had blue hands every night I knitted this.

But it’s worth it.

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If only we weren’t heading into summer.  I can’t wait for cooler weather so I can wear this all the time.

 


Burda Scarf Sweater

Do you remember this monstrosity?

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This was  BurdaStyle 123 – 11 /2014 before I set to work on it.

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That’s better!

To be honest, though, this sweater has been a disaster from start to finish.

First up, I bought the PDF version of this pattern and it was simply awful to tape together. It had been printed in a batch of other patterns that all seem to be ok, so I’m laying the blame for that firmly at Burda’s door.  It was all over the place and nigh on impossible to get two pages to line up properly.

Having compared my measurement to Burda’s measurement chart, I did a 4cm FBA.  That was fine.  But I ended up having to fiddle with the bust darts to make them point remotely in the right direction. They’re still a bit hinky. And I chopped inches off both the sleeves and the hem. They were crazy long!

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Most importantly I hand-stitched the scarf to the neckline.  It looks so much better this way and resolved the issue I had with the neckline being a bit too wide.

The fabric was bought at the Knitting and Stitching Show last November.  When I opened it at home I was really disappointed to find these circular marks all over it. They look like faded grease stains and don’t follow the grain of the fabric.  Another disaster!  It’s so disappointing because this fabric is so soft and cosy and just the most amazing colour.

In real life they’re less noticeable than in the photos, but it means that this sweater is probably relegated to chill out wear for home.

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My adorable photobombers!

I’m confident that I won’t be making this pattern again in a hurry.  Not only is it fabric hungry because of the scarf, but the way the front pleats adds bulk where I need it least.  I also prefer the scarf as an integral part of the sweater, so all in all this is just too much faff.

However, I’m glad this fabric is out of the stash and in the wardrobe. And whilst the weather is finally warming up here, this will be waiting for me on chilly nights.


Burda 6985 – a very wearable muslin

I’ve made a start on the first of my planned TNT patterns, which is this BurdaStyle slim legged trouser.

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The fabric I used is a 100% polyester crepe from Abakhan.  I’m slowly edging away from polyester, but I’d booked myself onto a Sewing for Fun day at Stitchscape with Celia Banks, and new this was one of the patterns I wanted to work on.

I’d already cut them in a cotton drill but when I’d tacked them together for fitting it was really obvious there was a problem. It turns out the fabric was completely twisted on the grain. So I needed a replacement fabric.  And fast.

It had to be navy and this was it!

Whilst it was a bugger to sew, it drapes really nicely and worked well in a pinch for the sewing class.

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For the purposes of fitting, I cut without pockets or fly zip and did an invisible zip in the back seam. This isn’t my favourite style of trouser but I believe it’s a great way to simplify the pattern and work on the fit.

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Ah…the obligatory derriere shot!

This clearly shows how flat I am at the back.  I’m straight up and down with no waist or hips to speak of.  This is one of the reasons I have such issues with RTW.

But I’m really happy with the fit at the back. I’m not sure I could get it much better than that.

The front is pretty good too.

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All in all I’m quite pleased with these.

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I think with a couple of tweaks they’ll be spot on.  I definitely need to take the waist in at least 1/2″, maybe as much as 1″.

I also think that I need to drop the waistline by about 1/4 – 1/2″.

And I may scoop that front curve just a smidge too.

Finally, I’d like the leg to be slightly slimmer, as the next pair I make will be the 7/8ths length shown on the pattern and I like a more slender leg for that style of trouser.

But…these are a great pair of smart trousers and a very wearable toile!  I’d definitely wear them for formal meetings (although those are few and far between) or, more likely, with a pretty top and my wedding heels (as here) for dinner out with the husband.

Now if only he’d book the table…..


Where to go?

Okay, my lovelies.  I need some advice.

It’s a not very well kept secret that I have a rather large birthday looming and although Paris was our first port of call for birthday celebrations, circumstances are conspiring against us (in a good way) to prevent this from happening.

So that’s my 51st birthday celebrations sorted. *wink*

However, The Husband, because he’s a superstar, has offered a bit of a jaunt and some fabric shopping as an alternative.  Of course I’m in for that!

So now I need to decide where to go. I’ve narrowed it down to Harrogate or Birmingham.

Harrogate….because Fine Fabrics and Betty’s, of course.

But Birmingham has the markets and Guthrie and Ghani.  And we could go on the train and both have wine with lunch.  There’s also the library which I’ve read has a super sewing reference section, so I could also have a browse and audition some new books for my home library. (I cannot remember who blogged about this recently, but if you know please do share and I’ll credit appropriately.)

So what do you think?  Which should we choose? And do you know any other great places in either city for food, yarn and fabric?


Remembering

Tomorrow it will be 7 years since Pa passed and Button came into our lives.

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So much has happened since then.  We now have Boy too. Hubby and I have been together for 10 years and married for 5. Both Button and Boy are succeeding against all the odds. They are doing well at school and with their dancing.  They are kind and joyful and healthy. We have wonderful family and friends. We have our own business. We will soon (hopefully) move to a beautiful new house.  I have a degree and am retraining for a new career.

We have so very much to be grateful for and proud of.

And I know Pa would be very proud of us too.

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Today I’ve bunked off all the things I should be doing to escape, quite literally, to the hills. Pa always called Lancashire ‘God’s Country’. He had a point. I need to take a breath, reflect, regroup, make lists.

Tomorrow Ma and I will have lunch and remember.

And it turns out that I was right 7 years ago.  I still miss you, Pa.  We all do.


What to sew – part 3 – tops

I have finally dusted off the sewing machine and very nearly have two new garments to show you.  This one needed quite a bit of work and a stern talking to!

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Rest assured that scissors and expletives have been deployed and it’s looking much nicer now!

Between curses, I’ve also been narrowing down the possible patterns for tops for my proposed TNT pattern selection. As my daily uniform is jeans and a cute top, these patterns will, if I get it right, get a lot of use.

My criteria for this selection was that they’d be reasonably simple sews and would reflect the types of tops I chose in RTW.  They also need to smooth over lumps and bumps whilst I work on getting rid of them, and be modest at the school gate.  I just can’t deal with any garment in which I have to worry about flashing Father Gerry if I bend over to administer a hug or zip up a coat.

I’m fairly sure Father Gerry is grateful for this consideration.

Moving on! First up are popover shirts.  I love, love, love a good popover shirt and this is the garment I wear most at the moment.

Newlook 6267 is pretty much perfect.

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View A with bracelet length sleeves with a narrow cuff or elastic, and the back hem brought up to the same length as the front. In all the colours!  I have several versions of this in RTW in my wardrobe and I love. love. love them!   Honestly I could wear this and a pair of jeans all year round and be a happy girl.

Newlook 6267 is also a clone of a RTW favourite.

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I had a navy RTW similar to view A, but with lace inserts rather than embellishments, and I wore it to rags with jeans and clogs in the summer.

As an aside, can I just say (again!!!!) that I do wish pattern companies would sort out their styling (bright orange and washed jeans….really?!) and their construction (that hem!) on their pattern envelopes.

Moving on again…I was inspired to purchase Newlook 6217 having seen Jane’s beautiful versions.

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I’d been contemplating adding a woven tee to the mix and couldn’t resist.  I’ll be honest that I’m not sure how this one will work for me, but I bought all of these patterns on sale so it’s not a great loss if this is a bust.  And again with the crappy styling!

With the wovens out of the way I absolutely have to have a knit t-shirt pattern.  I have two in mind.  I like to be contrary in that way!

First up is Burdastyle’s Scoop Neck Layered Shirt.

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I love this layered look although again it’s a bit of a departure for me.  But I can see this working really well for cooler days when a tee on it’s own is a bit too cool, but a cardigan or jacket is too much.  And its a great way to add some pops of colour to my wardrobe without scaring the horses.

Although the horses would probably mistake that necklace for a tasty snack and not be remotely perturbed by the top.

And last, but by no means least, is Cashmerette’s new Concord tee pattern.

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I’m intrigued by the multiple cup sizes, but I was most swayed by a conversation at a sewing class last week.  A friend of my sewing teacher has made it and only had to make the tiniest tweak to the side seams to get a perfect fit. She was astonished.

Also this has all the things I’m looking for in a tee pattern….scoop neck, shirttail hem, set in sleeves.  So expect to see this in all the colours too.  I think the v-necked version with a short sleeve would work perfectly with the Syrah Skirt.

And that’s a summer uniform that would get me out of jeans in a flash.


Pairfect socks

 

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You might think that the title of this post slipped by the spellchecker, but no!  These latest socks are knitted in Regia Pairfect yarn, which was a Christmas gift from my lovely friend Linda.

She knows what I like!

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After the travesty that was the poor Herriot Socks, these were an absolute joy to knit. The yarn is robust but not harsh and a good stripe always makes me knit faster.

“Just one more stripe!”

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The yarn is actually designed to give perfectly matched stripes on toe up sock patterns, but these are my trusty Regia sock pattern, which is top down.  I just knitted some blue for the cuff, pulled the yarn through until I hit the stripes, rejoined and knit until I came back to the blue.  There were a couple of more ends to stitch in at the end, but I’m happy to do that.

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You could of course knit these top down and have striped feet, but The Hubby’s preference was for stripy legs and I was happy to oblige.

Although I have another pair of socks on the needles at the moment (of course), I promise the next finished project will be something different.


Stylish party dresses – book review

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I am so late to the party with this review (see what I did there?).  But if you missed other folks thoughts on the matter, then stick with me, because I think this is a super book.

I have a really big soft spot for Japanese sewing books and have to contain myself and not buy all of them just because they are so pretty.  I do have a problem with them, namely  a) I have to grade every single pattern if I want to maintain the proportions, and b) oftentimes the shapes are designed to flatter a more boyish figure.  One thing I’ve never been accused of is having a boyish figure.

Stylish Party Dresses has some gorgeous patterns that not only do I want to make but which would fit my lifestyle and, I think, my figure.

So here are my best picks:

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This is my absolute favourite from this book.  I can see this in a navy silk, with matching cigarette pants and heels for a date night with hubby.  Gorgeous.  But it would also be lovely in linen over shorts for those hot summer days that we’re hoping to get.

A girl can hope, no?

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I don’t know where the urge to wear a jumpsuit is coming from.  I haven’t worn one of those since about 1994!  But this is lovely.  I’d make it in a plain solid with lace or sheer for the yoke/bow.  And, of course, several more inches on the trouser legs!

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This is just gorgeous.  Again I think the hem could drop a couple of inches, but other than that, everything is perfect.  Wouldn’t this be charming for warm summer evenings and dinner on the patio with friends?

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I love this dress for dinner dates with The Husband.  I’m not loving this colour, but change that and I think this has just the right mix of comfort, style and little details. I’m particularly fond of the shaped hem and the gorgeous sleeves.  You could, of course, give it a straight hem…that would then make it quite a timeless piece.

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Last, but by no means least, is this cute swing dress.  Whilst I wouldn’t really consider this a party dress, I’d love it in linen with flats for the summer. It would also be cute if you shortened it a bit and wore with leggings in colder weather.

The pattern sheets will be familiar to anyone who has ever traced a Burda pattern.

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When you consider the cost of a Vogue pattern, or some of the Indie offerings (£12.50 for an elastic waisted skirt!), this book is really quite modestly priced at £12 on Amazon UK.

Whilst I’m very much focussed on sewing basics for myself at the moment, I’m hoping to slip one or two of these into the mix too.

A girl can never have too many pretty dresses.  Wouldn’t you agree?

The disclaimer:

I received a free copy of this book from the kind folks at Tuttle Publishing in return for my review.  As always all thoughts are my own…and you know I call a spade a spade.  For what it’s worth I’d happily pay £12 for this book.