#100happydays (part 4)

I finished my #100happydays challenge a couple of weeks ago and here are the final 25 pictures.

#100 happy days 76-100 I definitely got in the habit of thinking about the day’s photo and it was a little bit weird when I didn’t have to do it (I know I never HAD to to do it, but I was determined to do all 100 days). So here in full glory is one hundred things that have made me happy (or grateful, pleased, content, or not-so-sad)

100 happy days

Picture 100 was taken the day I got discharged from the physio and she said I could try to knit again (as long as I take regular breaks every half-an-hour and keep up with strengthening exercises) so I’m hoping for a summer of knitting.

 

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Lush Purple Tweed Cardigan

This is actually one of my last makes of 2013, but the blocking process took a long time in cold winter weather, and it was only just ready to wear on New Year’s Eve. Since then I have barely taken it off; the only days it hasn’t been worn were when I was wearing a soon-to-be-blogged aubergine-purple skirt and I thought it would be overdoing the purple slightly!

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The cardigan in Tin Can Knits’ Lush cardigan (check out my Ravelry notes here!) and knitted in Rowan Silky Tweed in Jazz. I bought the yarn in John Lewis sale last year, and in googling a link I’m disappointed to see it is discontinued as it was scrummy to knit and is so lovely to wear.cardigan 2

The Lush pattern was unusual in that the yoke was knitted first, then the collar and neck was knitted up, and the body and sleeves were knitted down; I’ve never come across this construction before, but it meant the lace pattern was only over a small number of stitches and so was easier to follow on the chart (I coloured in each row in different colours to help me keep my place). I really enjoyed the lace and I also learned how to do a provisional cast on (one side of the yoke is knitted, then the other, for a lovely symmetry – see below, which is the most accurate colour of the yarn) which was not as scary as I thought. What I did not like was having to pick up over 300 stitches for the body and sleeves, and realise I had too many and have to start over again to get the spacing right!

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Once the sleeves were put on stitch holders it was plain sailing, but of course I made things harder for myself by adding bust darts (short rows) for shaping and to provide more length over the chest. I did this using the method in the Craftsy Curvy Knits course, with measurements doodled on a piece of graph paper at school one lunchtime. In hindsight I should have adjusted the measurements to take away the proportion of the negative ease the pattern has, as they are slightly too big, but I’m super pleased with the alteration as it is.

cardigan 3

 

The big thing I have learned since my Basic Bella Cardigan is about zero or negative ease in knitting. I carefully took my measurements and chose the size smaller than me to give a close fit, which I am liking so much more. I lengthened the sleeves, with a little too much negative ease, so I did rip back a couple of inches and stop decreases earlier. This was a pain, but is worth it in the end for a good quality garment I can wear forever. The sleeves are a perfect length for me, and I am so glad I ignored my “are we nearly finished?!” grumbles in my head.cardigan 1

 

The sleeves and hem were bound off using Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off which I cam across when googling bind-off techniques. It was simple (adding in a yarn over before each stitch) and is so stretchy, keeping the stretch of the cuffs.cardigan 6

 

The Thursday before Christmas I braved the thunderstorm to walk to knitting night at The Village Haberdashery, but I was the only one wise enough to do so! I needed to wind some hanks of yarn for my journey home for Christmas and needed some buttons for the cardigan. It was just me, Annie and gorgeous baby Harvey, but Harvey helped me choose buttons (he liked the train ones) but I found these perfect floral buttons. I had been looking for ages and could only find solid colours that looked too flat against the tweed, but the subtle colours in these ones match the tweed beautifully. (This picture doesn’t do it justice, but is the best of bad lack of daylight).
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I am so pleased with this cardigan and know it is going to be getting a lot of wear over the cooler months. The yarn was bought on sale for around £30ish and the buttons were £9 for 10, so in total this cardigan was approximately £40 and took 2 months to complete. Not bad at all.cardigan 4

Liberty Wool Hawthorn (aka. My New Favourite Dress)

liberty 8

This is the most recently completed garment from my epic photo-shoot (just one more garment to show you!) but it is also the most worn item. I took my time making this version of the Hawthorn dress so I would do the fabric justice – introducing my first Liberty dress! The fabric is a lovely printed wool blend from Classic Textiles in Goldhawk Road (£12 or 15 per metre!) and is lined in fuscia silk-cotton (again from Classic Textiles for an amazing £4 per metre – I’m never buying pricey poly-linings again!) so at over £40 for the dress this is one of my pricier makes (luckily I found some cheapish buttons I liked, instead of spending £2 a button on the super fancy ones!).

liberty 1

liberty 2The bodice looks a little odd here, but it is a great fit in real life since this is the fourth real-fabric version of I have made now. It is slim fitting around the waist but there is enough comfort ease to feel great wearing it. Construction was pretty similar to the dotty version, except I lined the bodice and sleeves which eliminated some of the facings. You can just see a bit of pink showing through, but I promise I did hand-stitch the lining down around the collar.

liberty 5People in real life commented that the dotty dress was a bit loose around the waist (before blog photos) so on this version I took the side seams in on the bodice. I forgot to allow for this on the skirt pieces, so I just made a little pleat centre back, which I quite like.

liberty 3It took me ages to choose buttons that would compliment the luxurious Liberty wool but that were affordable to buy 15 of! In the end I chose these clover-shaped pearl-effect buttons – they are a little bit more interesting than regular round “pearl” buttons, but I think they work well with the print and dress design.

liberty 6

I added two buttonholes to the sleeve cuffs (have I mentioned how much I LOVE the sleeve placket instructions? So effective and so neat!) for a bit of extra flair. My only big “mistake” making this was sewing the plackets on the sleeves flat (as in instructions) and then inserting the lining once the shell and lining were complete; this meant I had to hand sew the sleeve lining right next to the placket. It looks good but I wish I had worked how to do this by machine (treat the sleeves as underlining for this step?). I also sewed half the skirt sides up before I remembered I was adding pockets, which added some extra time, but definitely worth it for a winter dress with pockets for tissues and lipbalm.

liberty 7

Finally, I hand-sewed the hem. Yup, I sewed a full skirt by hand over a few hours instead of doing damage by machine (just like fixing the bodice lining to the main dress). I don’t have pictures but should also add that the entire dress is French seamed (except for parts hidden by lining). Karen’s Mistress of the Jar will be proud!liberty 4

The extra time (and money) spent on this dress was definitely worth it; I feel so great wearing it 🙂 It is flattering, comfy and cosy, with enough pattern to make it exciting but subtle enough for everyday. It is definitely going on my Top 5 Hit list tomorrow!

Parisian Polka-dot Hawthorn

Hello my lovely readers! You are in for a treat this week; I was at home during the day at the weekend and got my tripod and camera out and took not one set of blog photos, but five! Yup, I had a big photo shoot session and finally got pictures of some past makes.

I am really desperate to show you my New Favourite Dress, however I’ll start in chronological order with my first Hawthorn dress.dotty 4

The pattern and fabric were both birthday presents in the summer; the fabric came from Paris via my step-mum and is a gorgeous turquoise covered with polka-dots. I had originally thought I’d make an Elisalex dress with it, but when I struggled to find a zipper that came close to matching, it became destined to be a Hawthorn shirt dress.

dotty 1

I made a blouse and my bowling shirt before making this which gave me time to sort out the fitting and finishing details. I did my usual FBA, changing the dart into diagonal French darts, and got rid of some of the facings in favour of using bias binding. During my first wearing I realised there was a tad too much waist ease, so I took in the side seams a bit; it’s not a perfect adjustment but it’ll do.

dotty 2

This would have become a favourite dress if it wasn’t for the dye. I pre-washed the fabric before sewing, and have washed it a few times, but the turquoise is a really strong colour and keeps rubbing off on everything! My sewing machine turned blue during sewing, and when I wore it my arms and my slip underneath turned turquoise. Eek. After more washing, the colour transfer isn’t as bad, but you can see under the arms where the white spots have turned blue.

I was trying to get festive with some Christmas tunes while taking all these photos so here is a dancing-twirly picture.

dotty 3

Bargainous, Beautiful Buttons

A couple of weeks ago I needed to pop into John Lewis to exchange a zip I had bought in the wrong size. I was with my lovely friend M, but unfortunately she wouldn’t let me get distracted by all the pretty fabrics and sale yarns. I did however make a slight detour to the remnant bin by the cutting table and found a bag of random buttons for £3. How could I say no to that?!buttonsWhen home and opening the bag I discovered more delights than I expected:

  • 3 sets of 10+ buttons – teeny turquoise and brown buttons and chunky blue speckled buttons.
  • 6 big brown buttons
  • 7 medium greyish buttons
  • 3 big glitter shank buttons
  • 2 novelty buttons
  • lots of random odd buttons.

What a great addition to my button tin!

Have you found any surprise bargains lately?

 

Giveaway day!

Sew Mama Sew is hosting a giveaway day so I thought id contribute a little gift of my own.

I’m giving away a crafty bundle full of my favourote things. It contains 3 fat quarters, 5m of navy polka dot grosgrain ribbon (navy and white are my colour combo for spring), a selection of buttons from my overflowing stash and a dressmakers’ magnet (perfect if like me you always find pins everywhere).

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I will post to anywhere on the world. If you want to win  you need to leave a comment telling me what your favourite colours are for this season.

The giveaway closes at 5pm PST on May 10th when I will pick a winner at random. Make sure your contact details are linked on your blog/ in your comment so I can get in touch if you win.

Good luck!

FO: Basic Bella Cardigan

Eight months after starting (with lots of breaks) I have finally completed my Basic Bella cardigan!

bella 02
The pattern was Basic Black by Glenna C on Ravelry (also available here) and is a simple v-neck cardigan with waist-shaping. I chose this pattern to be the knitting equivalent of a basic cardigan block (ie. work out what changes I have to make to a standard cardigan before I try knitting any complicated lace/cables/patterns).

The changes I made were adding 10cm or so to the length (after the ribbing and before the waist-shaping) so it would sit well with jeans and trousers. This is the perfect length for me, as I find other cardigans I own always creep up when I move, leaving me with a cold bit of my back. I also lengthened the sleeves, making up the pattern as I went along to get a nice narrow cuff and lower arm. I think it is pretty good, for an improvised sleeve.

bella 01

When sewing I always need to do a Full Bust Adjustment, and I think that is what I need to do when knitting, but how? The size across the bust is great here, but the cardigan is a little big around the waist and hips (I took it in as much as I could while sewing it up) and the shoulders are also a little wide. On the next cardigan I will do a smaller size in the hips/waist, and am wondering if knitting a smaller size back would also work… any tips/ideas/reading about this?

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The pattern had basic instructions and at first was a bit confusing (work decreases for neckline and at same time work shoulder shaping). Once I worked out what I was supposed to be doing, the instructions actually helped me understand the process better -there was no mindlessly following instructions, but actually having to think about how the cardigan is shaped and constructed, which made it easier to work out where/how to adapt the pattern.

bella 04

The yarn I used was Debbie Bliss Bella (85% cotton, 10% silk and 5% cashmere – it glided beautifully on my steel needles) in shade 16008 which is apparently called Crimson. I say apparently because some people have called this red, some people have called it deep pink. Whatever colour it was, I struggled to find buttons that would match this shade. In the end I chose these stripy buttons, as the white broke up the colour and didn’t make the difference so obvious – from the front they look great, but the back of the button clashes a bit. It reminds me of this optical illusion where the grey looks different depending on the background.

bella 03Most of this cardigan has been knitted as I travelled to and from work, so it has taken a long time to make (not including the long break when I was crocheting crazily to finish my blanket and making Christmas gifts). I spent most of the bank holiday weekend knitting the sleeves (both at the same time) and probably spent 3 full days doing the sleeves and finishing the cardigan. The yarn was purchased last year in the sales but obviously I blogged about the costs of all the other purchases and not this one. I think the yarn cost approx £40 and the buttons cost a couple of pounds, so total cost was under £45.

Before I get started on a cosy winter cardigan, here is a sneak peak of my current sewing project…WIP

Fabric Frenzy and Half-term plans

On Saturday I got up bright and early to meet Kathyrn, Elisalex, and some other lovely bloggers/sewing fanatics to go to the Peter Jensen fabric sample sale. We got there just after it opened at 10am which was a good plan as it was already very busy and the queue to get fabric cut was huuuuge. The sale was in a design studio which was interesting to nosy around – look at the pin-cushion attached to the sewing machine!

There were mostly plain solid fabrics and no sign of the crazy prints we were expecting, but they were all lovely quality and bargain prices. I was queuing with some lovely aubergine corduroy and deciding how much I needed and for what (cord skirt, winter shift/pinafore dress, jacket… someone suggested a Minoru) and got convinced to take the whole roll end. Uh oh! Except it was only £20 for over 6m of lovely fabric, which is what you would expect to pay for 4m (which was what I was planning on getting). I’m still deciding what to make with it as I realised I have quite a few skirts planned already. (The other roll is some spare inner tubes I grabbed for school – to make a wigwam? – which were interesting to take on the tube!)

I also got a roll of black ribbed jersey from the random remnant bin. All the bags were £1, £2 or £3 and the £1 bags really did just contain off-cuts. My bag/roll was £3 and unrolled it looks like there is almost 4m of it! This is going to be a snuggly long-sleeved top with a cosy cowl neck, although I’m not sure if it is warm t-shirt or cool jumper thickness.

There were various ribbons and elastics for 20p a metre, rolls of bias binding (the pink was 10p and white was just £1) but my most exciting buy was these super sparkly buttons. They are black with faceted edges and I got two sizes – the tiny ones were 20 for £1 and the larger ones were 20 for £1.50. What a bargain!

Today I have cleared my table and am going to get cutting my stash – its not my favourite part of sewing so I am going to cut out multiple projects ready to sew bit by bit over the next few weeks. With the weather turning cooler I am looking forward to cutting into some of my wools from Goldhawk Road  – a simple charcoal ginger skirt and some stretchy herringbone grey trousers – and a wine pinstripe that I got in the summer sales to become a chevron Ginger skirt. I also grabbed a remnant in John Lewis a few weeks ago (when in to get a zipper for the wool skirt) which I couldn’t resist (John Kaldor fuscia with black and grey splodges) as it was exactly the right size for another Burda Septemeber 106. I think this will quickly become a wardrobe staple as it feels so good to wear something fitted and woven.

Wow! That sounds like a lot (2 skirts, 2 tops and 1 pair of trousers) but I suppose it is what you could buy in a day of shopping and I know I will live in them (if they are successful!) now it is getting chilly! I better log-off now and get to work!

p.s. Any pattern recommendations for a good winter corduroy dress? I want to be able to wear it over long-sleeved tops and pockets are a must! I am thinking about drafting it by combining a good bodice with a Ginger skirt…

 

Post 100!

This is somehow my 100th blog post! Wow, who would have thought I’d have so much to say that people would want to read.

Sadly I don’t have a finished creation to share (my black cord skirt is still in need of 20cm of hand sewing), I haven’t got much visible progress on my cardigan, and I am falling behind with my crochet-along. Yup, after only seven days of actual teaching I have caught an awful cold and headache. If it were a school day, I wouldn’t feel too guilty about taking a day off as my brain has felt too foggy to crochet – you know you are ill when you can’t curl up on the sofa with yarn!

Since I have nothing exciting to show you all, I suppose I’ll have to celebrate my 100th post with a giveaway! The prize will include a spare copy of Threads issue 162 (with articles about exposed zippers, topstitching and tailored trousers), some buttons and ribbons (of course!), and a little handmade mystery surprise!

If you want to enter just leave a comment below (with contact details if I can’t find them on your blog) and I will pick a winner at random on 1st October. If you want to share my blog with your readers, send me a link and I will put your name in the hat twice.

Good luck! I’m off to make some hot Ribena and see if I can concentrate on my crochet along blocks.