Tuesday, April 30, 2013

From Deer and Doe... to Bambi

No, it's not April fool's day, I really have been trying to make a bra!
This is my first attempt at the Bambi Soft Bra from Ohhh Lulu.
Marie is having a giveaway for any of the Ohhh Lulu patterns at the moment - you really ought to have a look!
I didn't buy any special materials for this experiment, and that ripple-y roll-y lower edge is the result - my band elastic was far too narrow to be fit for purpose.
But I have learned enough from playing with the pattern to think it would be worth investing in the necessary bits and pieces to try again:  using straps and clips and back-hooks and proper elastic.
My prototype is made from scraps of Liberty Tana Lawn, leftover from the Sencha you saw me in the other day.  The top edge is a tiny piece of broderie anglaise.  I lined it with white t-shirt cotton.
As far as I can tell, it is a reasonable fit.  But without straps and a back fastening, I can only check the cup size, not the overall circumference.
Clearly, it will not provide any serious upholstery or engineering benefits.  This is no Wonderbra!  I wouldn't go for a jog in it, and I wouldn't wear it to work, but it is rather pretty and potentially very comfortable for round-the-house wear.
Have you ever made a bra?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

FO: La Jupe Chardon Dijonnaise

 Do not be fooled by that patch of sunlight - it is only 7 degrees Celsius out here and I am about to freeze!
This is the Chardon skirt by Deer and Doe which I began sewing over two weeks ago.
Then life intervened.
FL and I have both been under the weather.  I am much better now, but he is still coughing himself inside out. Sigh.
 I have a new skirt! Hooray!
Pattern: Chardon skirt by Deer and Doe, size 38
Fabric:  Gorgeous mustard linen, gifted to me by my dear blog-pal Jessica.
She made a skirt (which I can't find on her blog - tsk!) and sent me the leftovers because she knew I was having a major mustard moment,  Thank you, thank you, thank you - it's perfect!
Other: Grey and white striped bias binding from Frumble Fabrics which I used to finish the waist facing and inside the hem. An invisible zip.  One of my "Persuasion" quote labels.
Back waist before folding the facing to the inside
I was determined not to rush this project and took my time to finish all the raw edges and topstitch the pleats.
Saying that, I got confused about which view I was making and had to unpick a couple of pleats to insert the bow at the back.
Oh yeah - I almost forgot to show you the best part!

Isn't that the cutest back waistband you ever saw?!
(Humour me.)
I wanted to make a skirt that was work-appropriate, but didn't want to suck all the joy out of this sunny fabric.  The bow belt feature sang out to me when I first spotted this pattern... and it also does a great job of covering up a dodgy "invisible" zip insertion!
This was the first time I used the special invisible zip foot attachment on my Bernina, and it went a bit wonky right at the top.  Just as well I went for this view, eh?!

I love it!
I prefer high-waisted skirts and was on the look out for a new twist on that style after making a slew of Gingers and Kellys.
The Chardon is wider and more shapely than either of those, giving it more movement.  This linen is the ideal weight to give body to the pleats without causing bulky seams.  I used the same material for the side-seam pockets and they hang really nicely.
I decided not to line it, after all the problems I had with my Kellys.  I really must make or buy an underskirt / slip.  It looks wonderfully crisp right now, but what will it be like after a day at the office?

Will I make more of these?
Oh yes!
I have some alarmingly watermelon-coloured linen in the depths of the stash that may have found its vocation.
But I am equally tempted to make a plain black everyday staple of a skirt, with belt loops rather than a bow.
And I may need to be physically restrained from buying some metallic-finish aquamarine denim to make the contrast-hem version using the reverse of the fabric - ooh yeah!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Book Review: Coopknits Socks

You may have noticed my recent obsession with sock knitting patterns by Rachel Coopey, Coopknits.
So you can imagine my delight at the news she was about to publish Coopknits, Socks, her first book.  Naturally, I pre-ordered my copy at the earliest opportunity.
When I got home on Tuesday to find it had arrived, on the day it was released... well!  My cup runneth over :D

The first thing to say is that it LOOKS lovely!
I have seen so many sock patterns where the photos are a bit muddy and indistinct and meh-inspiring.  There is none of that rubbish here.
Every picture is bright and crisp and clear.  You can practically count the stitches in each photo!
The colours used are cheerful and energetic.
The models all have their mouths under control (who else is sick of models with parted lips, catching flies as they drool at the camera?) and... get this... the socks FIT their feet!

Can a sock pattern book be described as "aspirational"?  I reckon this one can!
There are ten designs in here, all aimed at people who love sock-knitting.  There is something for every sub-genre of the addiction:  cables, lace, colourwork, twisted stitches...

There are no "fillers"in this book.  Every one of these patterns would have been worthy of a £3 download cost on Ravelry, but buy this book and you get 10 patterns for £15 (RRP) in hard copy and it comes with a unique code to download the pdfs for your scribbley working copy - yay!  Or you can opt just to have the pdfs for £14.  But truly, you want the real live book!

Which are my favourites?

Budleigh - picture copyright Rachel Coopey

My Number One is definitely Budleigh.  The design inspiration is patterns made by water on the seashore.  There are columns of sharply-delineated ripples merging into softer deeper waves.  I would love to knit this in a gradient-dyed yarn in shades of sand /grey/ blue.  Literal as ever, Roo!  But I can also see it in a solid colour, perhaps with one sock green and one purple as a mismatched pair?  Perhaps tipped with a tiny stripe of the other colour at the cuff?

Willowherb - picture copyright Rachel Coopey

I am also intrigued by Willowherb, whose lace pattern is echoed in the colourwork of the knee-high design, Brighton - ooh!  There is a Knitalong in Rachel's Ravelry group and they are starting with Willowherb and Saltburn.  I might have to join in!

Brighton - picture copyright Rachel Coopey

Quirky mirroring is a feature of many of Rachel's socks.  Milfoil is a great example, where the foot and leg swop stitch patterns on the second sock.  Others, like Saxifrage (ooh - Saxifrage!) are straightforward opposites.

Saxifrage - picture copyright Rachel Coopey

These unexpected features are what make these patterns special.  I have heard Rachel's patterns described as "like Cookie A but more approachable" and I think there's a lot of truth in that.  (Just remembered - it was Steve over at the DramaticKnits podcast who said it.) I bought Cookie's Sock Innovation, knitted one pair of socks and then put the book aside.  So many of the designs just felt like a step too far for my tired brain.  By contrast, Coopknits Socks feel like a challenge I could meet.  Enough spice to wake up your palette, without blowing your head off with confusion.

So when do I start?

Um... just as soon as I finish my pair of John Huston, Tarnished Hero socks for FL's birthday.  I am about to turn the heel on sock one, so... soon?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Me Made May: a Plan

'I, Roo of www.roobeedoo.blogspot.co.uk, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '13. I endeavour to wear a happy handmade outfit each day for the duration of May 2013'
So help me.

Anyone who has been reading my blog for a while will know I am a repeat offender in respect of "Me Made Month" challenges.

This year, Me Made May will be no exception, but I promise not to spam your in-boxes with my outfit posts.  I took some time to decide how best to participate this time around.  I am almost entirely "me-made" every day already, so simply wearing my clothes is not a challenge.

Happy t shirt and beads: )  worn with unhappy cardi : (
I have decided to aim for a "happy handmade outfit" every day in May.  The "happy" might come from a sunny-coloured scarf, or a string of bright beads, or simply the knowledge that my combination of garments "works".  It is going to require me to take a little more time to plan what I wear, and NOT do as I did this morning:  looked in the wardrobe 5 minutes before I needed to leave the house and put on what was clean and didn't need to be ironed.  Ahem.

I am also thinking of using the month to fill the gaps in my wardrobe, and hopefully head into the summer free from the sad old RTW garments which I still fall back on as "staples", even though they are way past their best.

So my Me Made May will be a month to:
(1) Get on with knitting a cardigan or two (note: I say "get on with", not finish!)
(2) Replace the 3 faded RTW long-sleeved t's that still haunt my wardrobe
(3) Finish my Spring coat project (or start again!)

Those are my 3 main goals for the month, in terms of stitching output.  But I also want to make more of an effort to match my fabric stash to patterns and  make a plan to sew them up.  And write it down!  Make myself a folder or a notebook with swatches and drawings and... yeah, a plan.

And I might even plan my blog posts for the month, so you know that e.g. on a Wednesday I will share knitting progress, on a Sunday, my sewing... imagine that?!

Don't worry - it won't last! ;)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Wider than the screen Knitting

Waffle Cream socks by Anne Hanson (Knitspot)
I was up with the birds on Saturday morning and had the shopping done and the floors scrubbed before 11am.
Yes, scrubbed.  Proper hand-and-knees cleaning with a bucket of soapy water and a brush.  Ugh.
After that, sewing felt like an energetic step too far... and there was also the small matter of table space, or lack of it.
Because FL bought a giant tv.
I'll pause here for The Girl in London to wipe the tears of laughter from her eyes.  Hi Girl!
There is so much I could say on this subject:  how a giant tv was the beginning of the end of my first marriage, how I would prefer not to have a tv at all, how truly madly deeply much I dislike oversized electrical gadgets... deep breaths now Roo.... calm.... and breathe.... aaaah!
But here is the thing:  FL is really not well at all.  He has given up his golf club membership because he can't walk very far.  His hearing has deteriorated, and so has his eyesight.  But he loves watching the news and Time Team repeats.
Our old tv is very old and very small and he can't see the subtitles.  Besides which, it has become impossible to tune.  If I perch the aerial on top of "Roman Camps in Scotland", with an 8 inch overhang from the edge of the kitchen worktop, we can get BBC1 and Channel 4, but nothing else... and even then it "explodes" every few minutes.  Ever watched only the top half of Masterchef with spluttering intermittent sound?  Greg's bald head has limited visual appeal...
Now, I have been arguing that the problem is the signal / aerial relationship, due mainly to trees and the relative position of the transmitter... and not the tv set.  FL didn't believe me.  So he and a friend went shopping.  I came home to find a new addition to the Sofa of Doom.
Words fail me.

EDITED TO REMOVE PHOTO OF TV BOX ON SOFA - and a note to spammers - please leave my little blog alone.  I assume you found me through the image of the tv box?  It has been removed - don't come back please.

And until such time as we can work out how to lift the old tv out of the corner (it may have a small screen but it is about 2 feet deep and very very heavy), the new tv is on the table.  It is taking up the whole of the table.
Oh... and it doesn't work. Ha ha ha ha ha!  It is so ridiculous that all I can do is laugh!  Giant TV doesn't have any more hope of picking up a signal than Small TV.
So I am knitting.
Cabled Cropped Cardi from Learn to Knit Love to Knit
And knitting some more.
And FL is sleeping.
And sleeping.
And coughing.
And sleeping.
At some point today, I am going to have to take charge of this situation and get the wheelbarrow into the front room to move the old tv out and the new one in, so that at least we can use the table.
And I suppose tomorrow I will have to arrange for a roof aerial to be installed.
Until then... I am knitting.
John Huston, Tarnished Hero by Rachel Coopey

Do any of you have any better ideas?!
Thought not.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

FO: Leticia, my Artio Shawlette

Meet Leticia, my pet seahorse*.

Hooray - I match the concrete mixer!
Pattern:  Artio Shawlette by Patricia Martin, from Issue 20 of Knit Now magazine.
Yarn:  Skein Queen Exquisite, a 80% merino 10% cashmere 10% nylon mix which has a soothing baby-soft fluffiness.  The colour is "Spring Lime" and that encapsulates it pretty well:  sharp, fresh, zest, spring-like - yay!
Needles:  Addi size 3.75mm.
 I have lost their sleeve so I don't know if these were the special "lace" Addis.  They have a gold cable and silver tips and were wonderfully smooth-running in combination with this yarn - a real pleasure to knit!

The designer suggests starting with a few rows of plain knitting if you think your cast-on is not loose enough to go straight for the yarn-overs.  But thinking about it, a few plain rows might have given it more stability at the cast on edge and prevented excessive stretching.  When I blocked mine (no plain rows), it grew and grew and grew...

I chose to throw a stitchmarker in between each repeat of the yarnover columns.  This meant I used all my stitchmarkers plus an assortment of paperclips and safety pins.  I grew to appreciate my Fripperies and Bibelots snag-free stitchmarkers all the more, as the paperclips and split-ring-style markers had a nasty habit of catching the yarn and ripping at it - ugh!

By some miracle, I did not drop any stitches in this project.  Amazing!  (Lucky!)

The short-rows were taxing on my brain, as there was such a lot of counting to be done.  If I made it again, I would make better use of my stitchmarkers so that I knew when I reached, say, the blue one, I was at stitch 120, instead of having to count back every time.

I thought I was going to have loads of yarn left, but the border used at least as much wool as the main section, so there probably isn't enough for matching mitts after all.

The schematic shows a shawl of 126cm by 24cm at the longest / deepest parts.  But after soaking it in woolwash for 20 minutes and gently rinsing the soap away, all those yo's took on a life of their own and became super-stretchy.  I had to double the shawlette back on itself on my exercise mat to block it (hence the seahorse!).  I wanted to make the most of the points and avoid frills, so this seemed like the best solution.

I really like it!
It winds about 3 times loosely round my neck and shoulders, with plenty of airy dangle and drape.
It is soft and light and warm in an acceptably spring-breeze-defiant weight.
The colour has plenty of uplifting zing without actually glowing in the dark.
It is going to be wonderful with my new season coat (if that ever happens).

*Leticia?  Because she is the colour of a lettuce.
Seahorse?  Because of her shape when blocking.
Oh look - the Sofa of Doom!

National Geographic says:

"Seahorses are truly unique, and not just because of their unusual equine shape. Unlike most other fish, they are monogamous and mate for life. Rarer still, they are among the only animal species on Earth in which the male bears the unborn young.
Because of their body shape, seahorses are rather inept swimmers and can easily die of exhaustion when caught in storm-roiled seas. They propel themselves by using a small fin on their back that flutters up to 35 times per second. Even smaller pectoral fins located near the back of the head are used for steering.
They anchor themselves with their prehensile tails to sea grasses and corals, using their elongated snouts to suck in plankton and small crustaceans that drift by. Voracious eaters, they graze continually and can consume 3,000 or more brine shrimp per day."

Well, who knew?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Lettuce (with a gladsome mind)

Saturday was a sewing day.  I am working on my first Deer & Doe Chardon skirt in a beautiful mustard linen, oh-so-kindly gifted to me by Jessica.  

I am waiting for a mail-order zip to arrive so that I can finish it.  This enforced pause gives me time to consider whether to embellish the skirt with herbal embroidery, or to keep it simple. Against my better judgement, I have decided to make the back-bow version, as it was looking awfully plain.  But would embroidery be a craftsy step too far?  Hmmm... and before you ask, YES I do intend to wear this to work.

Sunday has been all about the lettuce.  After I wrote my last post, I realised how near I was to finishing my Artio shawlette, and that once I did I would have the needle-space to cast on for a cardigan - yay!  So there was a great deal of knitting, back-to-back knitting podcast-listening, and a couple of sprints across the fields with the dog. 
Sprints?  OK, I exaggerate.  I can only manage about 30 seconds of stumbling jog at the moment, but I am trying to do it as often as possible to get myself a bit more mobile. 30 seconds of jog, 30 seconds of walk, 30 seconds of jog... repeat. 
 "Fit" feels a long way off.  I may be thin but I am not at all sporty.  My knees give way after a few steps, and we won't discuss my pelvic floor, thanks.  I have ordered a t-shirt with the immortal logo:  "If I'm running, zombies are chasing me" in the hope that watching knitting podcasts in which such garments are worn will somehow rub off on me and I will become an energetic person.
Been there bought the t-shirt?  Yeah.  Well.  At least I am trying.
It's all a healthy blur...

Healthy eating is going strong though - yay!
When The Girl was here, we stuck to the menu I posted on the blog, and ever since then, I have persisted with vegan cuisine.  FL has continued to stock the fridge with pork pie supplements, so is not feeling deprived.
As we enter week three, however, he offered to buy me some fish in town.  He hasn't come right out and said "Please can we not have vegy food every day?" but I know that's what is behind his kind offer.  Fair enough.  As long as we don't slip back into "100 different ways to serve a sausage" I don't mind the odd animal protein.  But I am feeling much better in myself on a mainly-vegetarian diet.
Apple oat muffins from The Veganomicon
And in farm news... we have a mallard duck nesting in my herb garden!

Duck eggs by twilight
I am trying to keep the dog away from her.  She is right up against the fence in a sheltered spot.  I can't wait to see the ducklings!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Knitting Lettuce and other Yarny Delights

No knitted FO for you this weekend, but I have been motoring away on a new shawl-ette, using the spring green Skein Queen yarn which I mentioned  recently.  It is the Artio Shawlette from the latest issue of Knit Now magazine.
Knitted lettuce

It is a very easy pattern if you know how to work short rows and are good at counting.  It is a stinker if you can't count / are feeling a bit tired.  I have approximately 50 gazillion stitchmarkers on the needles (including several paperclips and safety pins when I ran out of the real thing) and still had to count every stitch on every row at least once, sometimes twice, to know when to wrap and turn.  Good golly, Miss Molly, was I glad to see the end of those short rows!
earlier in the week...
I was loving the look of the reverse until I picked up my wraps - now it looks a bit scruffy on the back... and nobody wants a scruffy backside ; )
It is also somewhat petite... and I have loads of yarn left.
I will be blocking it severely and will maybe make matching wristwarmers.

In spite of these petty reservations, I love the sharp zesty colour and the softness and the crisp columns of yo's - lacey without being too girly.  The yarn is delicious:  80% merino, 10% cashmere and 10% nylon. 

I cast on for the Talia socks (in Yarn Yard Marchmont)... and that's all I have done so far.  Suddenly the thought of knee-high fair-isle has lost its appeal.  I might set this aside and start a man-sock for FL's birthday (in June).

I like to have a sock on the needles at all times, and we have a waiting room experience to look forward to on Tuesday.  I am undecided on pattern or yarn.  FL prefers a longer sock and his favourites are the earliest ones I knitted in Sunbeam St Ives yarn.  That yarn is no longer available, but I believe that it has been replaced by Wendy Roam - ah ha!  It's fairly cheap and comes in manly heathered and ombre-stripe-type colours.  Perhaps it's time to invest in a couple of balls to try it out, in the interests of research.

Pattern?  I am tempted to go for an old-fashioned textured sock, maybe from Knitting Vintage Socks - maybe the Railway Stitch?  The project photos for that book have improved a lot since last I looked - I could get really inspired by some of the samples now on display, especially the ones in unusual variegated yarns.  I have always felt I needed to be quite pedestrian when using a vintage pattern, out of some sort of loyalty to the past - silly, really!

Browsing Ravelry, I see I have also queued the Railway Blues sock, which is very simple and plain.  Maybe too plain to keep me interested? Oh... and of course there is John Huston, Tarnished Hero by Rachel Coopey.  Ah ha!  A manly Coopey sock - perfect!  I can see which way this decision is heading!

Have you seen that Rachel has a book of sock patterns coming out soon?  I am seriously excited about that - and yes I have pre-ordered my copy!

Let me leave with you with recent incoming stash.  Because I know you like to see all the pretty things!

First up:  the most recent Skein Queen club yarn.  OMG this is one of the most beautiful yarns I have ever seen!  So lovely I am scared to use it!  Those colours?  The silkiness?  The sheen?  Wow! 
It is laceweight and I have 600 yards - what to do?
I know... I'll keep it beside me on the sofa and pet it like a kitten : )

And from my other club, the Yarn Yard's  Small Skein Society, comes a very unusual plump and cushy sock-ish yarn in the colour Blood Orange.  It reminds me of my mother's mandarin cheesecake.  Yum!  I am thinking of making myself some little ankle socks with contrasting heels and toes.  If the contrast was a luscious brown, they could be mandarin dipped-chocolate cheesecake socks...? 
The latest installment of the club arrived today but I had better not show you yet as others will still be waiting for their deliveries - just to say it is very very.... ha!  Not telling!
Right - back to my sewing machine...

Thursday, April 11, 2013

New and Coming Soon - Ooh! Slinky!

Remember my Drafting Tops?
First there was the dark grey marl version...
Then the black cardigan hack  - which was a Christmas present for The Girl
And last but not least... the silvery stripey one?

At the time, Jill Yee (the designer) mentioned she might make the fabrics available to buy in her It Terations Etsy shop, if people were interested.

Well... now is your chance!
Until mid-May, she is offering a selection of high quality drapey jersey fabrics in her shop here.

She sent me some samples and I can confirm that these are really lovely and awesome value for money!

The "solid navy" is a wonderful midnight blue which would make a beautiful waterfall-fronted cardigan, or how about a wrap-fronted dress?
And look at the grey wool-mix - ooh ooh ooh, wouldn't that be great for an everyday cardigan, or maybe a skirt?  Or both?
And the stripey thinner jerseys would be perfect for a Summer Concert Tee or two!

The current listings are for 2-yard pieces, but Jill is happy to cut you a larger continuous length on request - just send her a convo through Etsy.

And as if that was not enough... Jill is also planning to make another kit available, for a lingerie / pj set in either silk with lace trim, or jersey with picot elastic trim.

Say that again, Roo?
Or jersey?!
Camisole and french knickers!
Seriously slinky for summer :D
I'll let you know when the kits become available - but I for one am really rather excited!

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Something to Put On

So... I wrote my Spring switchover post, made myself a top, dressed myself, and went to work on Monday morning as usual.  Life goes on.
But I was frustrated with myself.  I could not believe that I am in an apparently endless loop of cardigan-lack.  Really, Roo?
So when I went home, I flung open the wardrobe doors and looked again.
And realised that I was lying - to myself and to you.  I DO have "something to put on".  I am just a drama queen.

Full Disclosure of woollies fit for work, grouped by weight (heaviest first):
Seasalt teal aran cardigan
Norah Gaughan-pattern purple aran cardigan (me made)

Betty Jean McNeil cardigan (me made)
Jack Wills fair-isle yoke cardigan

Lime green vintage cashmere cardigan
Audrey-in Unst cardigan (me made)
Bettie's Pullover (me made)
Boden taupe wool polo neck

Black cotton  3/4 sleeve polo neck
Brora black slinky evening sweater

What I really meant was that I tend to have one big cover-all cardigan which goes with absolutely everything I own (in the sense that it is so utterly neutral and anonymous that I don't even notice I am wearing it), and when that garment collapses under the strain of constant wear, I am bereft.  Silly moo.

THAT is an entirely different problem from the one I described, people!

I need to try wearing what I have.  Get a flipping grip, Roo!

So I have made myself a spreadsheet :D
Imagine - I could even make a pie-chart at the end of the month :D

Every day I will note my Top, Bottom and Outer garments, and aim to mix it up a bit more.  Get out of that navy woolly rut.
A plan - I have one!

P.S. And I am going to knit a black cardigan too...

Monday, April 08, 2013

FO: Emergency Top-Up Renfrew

When I realised I was a top short of my expected quota, I had a minor but nevertheless heart-stopping moment of panic. 
ALL of my clothes are now hanging up in my wardrobe.
The storage drawer is empty (I don't count my wedding coat, my quilt project or my abandoned Shalder cardi!)
Those white streaks are moving!

But I knew I had the solution in my own hands.  I had one yard of jersey left from my last Girl Charlee order, so I got out my Renfrew pattern and made a top.  Just like that? Shrugs.  Just like that!

Pattern:  Renfrew by Sewaholic, View A, size 4
Fabric:  One yard of cotton jersey from Girl Charlee, $6 plus postage (I bought 3 yards and the postage was approximately equal to the cost of the fabric. This was still cheaper than buying from within the UK, even supposing I could find a supplier.)

Yeah - more snow!

This is quite a firm and non-stretchy jersey so I made a larger size than usual.  This was the right decision.
I did not make cuffs or a hem band, but used black satin bias binding as a facing.  This means the edges won't stretch, so I can't roll my sleeves up, but at least they will stay in shape.

I can see from these pictures that the neckband is a bit gape-y, but I think I can steam-press it into submission.  It's not a deal-breaker.

A stash-busting wardrobe-filler!
The fabric is a beautiful rich  violet-blue with a print of black lace so it goes with black or navy (or red or grey or even in-ya-face mustard!)
Quick, easy, practical.
High five, seamstresses!
Oh - and since I managed to cut my feet out of all my snowy selfies, here is a bonus picture of my new ankle boots from White Stuff :D
The most comfortable shoes I have encountered in many a year - and cute too!

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Getting ready for a Spring

On Saturday we waved goodbye to The Girl, as she caught the train home to London-town.

My plan for the morning was to empty my wardrobe out onto the bed and perform the seasonal assessment exercise - you know the drill:  what have I got, what do I need, what needs to go.

I had already gifted The Girl my black velvet peacoat.  It was an ebay pre-loved bargain and I have been wearing it for about ten years.  It had reached the stage where I had stopped seeing it.  It was just "my jacket" and it deserved to be given a new lease of life.  On The Girl it was suddenly all hip and cool "Yeah... I borrowed it from my boyfriend" style - yay!  I knew I was creating a gap in my wardrobe, but it felt right. And it earned me (chocolate) brownie points from my daughter ; )

However, there were a few other unexpected gaps waiting to be discovered. Things that I had made and worn and washed and worn over two or three summers were suddenly looking grey and grim in the cold light of day.  My white dobby dot Portfolio top has to go.  Seriously - it cannot be worn again, it is practically threadbare in places.  Ditto my previously-white t-shirt hoodie - when did it turn grey?  Was I really wearing it in that grimy state last year?

I examined my long-sleeved tees, and the RTW ones I have been wearing all winter are on their last legs.  My Renfrews are still fine... except I can't find my caravan-curtain print one.  Where has it gone? It wasn't hanging up and it wasn't folded away.  It wasn't in the ironing basket (where I last remember seeing it) and I have this terrible lurking suspicion that it got caught up in a clutter-clearing sweep when I was throwing out a pile of old towels and sheets... nooooo!
I have no lightweight cardigans.  At allScruffyBadger has inspired me to try sewing my own, but I think the situation is critical and I might have to bite the bullet and buy a couple to see me through until I can source suitable fabric and pattern.  You are sick of my quest for ethical knitwear.  So am I.  The Maison Scotch navy cardi I bought back in August is now a shapeless bobbley mess of doom.  I am wearing it round the house but it is no longer fit for work.

I was listening to the Stash and Burn podcast the other day (episode 127), and there was a really interesting interview with Amy Herzog, author of Knit to Flatter

She talks about the differences between our grandmothers' knitting and knitting today.  About how Grandma was knitting for warmth and utility, but with a lot of creative freedom.  How the demands of a corporate dress code restricts the modern knitter.  I certainly think this is true for me.  I knit socks and shawls, rarely taking the time to knit a full-sized garment because I spend most of my life in an office or up to the elbows in mud! But if I spent more of my knitting time producing work-appropriate cardigans, I would not be in this ethical muddle.  The secret is to find interesting-to-knit office-friendly patterns: nothing too craftsy or "home-made" looking, and definitely not the great saggy baggy aran knits that attract my country magpie eye! Amy Herzog promises exactly this in her new book.  I need to check it out.

And at this point I need to confess: I have not finished my Shalder cardigan.  I have bundled it up in a bag and buried it deep in the wardrobe drawer, with only the i-cord bind-off to complete.  Why?  Because it was something I wanted to knit but not something I wanted to wear.  It is lilac cotton.  LILAC COTTON?!  What was I thinking?  The Girl identified the problem immediately:  "It looks like the kind of thing Grandma would wear".  Uh huh.  I will take it out again when I am 87 and see if I like it any better then.

Meantime... I need a plan.
Glow-in-the-dark skeleton Docs are sadly not part of it ; )

Saturday, April 06, 2013

FO: Deer & Doe Datura Blouse, A Little Bit Country

Oh hello - I've seen that fabric somewhere before haven't I?
 But it's looking a little bit different this time around!

Pattern:  Datura Blouse from Deer& Doe, size 34.
Fabric: "Vintage" floral brushed cotton, salvaged from my unfortunate 70's smock; plus about 30cm of orange and white striped seersucker.
Other:  3 orange buttons (ebay) and orange bias binding (ebay)
One glance at the front bodice piece and I knew I would have to narrow the darts: they were built for a busty gal, and that's not me! Remembering the adjustments I made to my second Darling Ranges dress, I chose to make the smallest size and halved the spread of the bust darts.

If you do this, you have to remember it changes the length of the front piece and the back has to be cut to match.  No, of course I didn't remember...but I will next time!
I really like the way the collar is made, even though it took up all the fabric from the sleeves of the first blouse.
Yeah...it's a bit of a fabric-guzzler for a sleeveless top.
That upper bodice is fully lined, back and front. 
So even though my floral fabric was heavier than the seersucker, by the time I lined the upper part, they were fairly evenly balanced.  You need to think about that when you are choosing your materials.
I love the attention to detail in the way it is put together.  It makes for a very neat finish, inside and out.

It is graded "Advanced" and I think that is fair. It's not enormously difficult, if you know what you are doing, but does assume a certain level of experience.  A beginner would definitely require a few more diagrams to make sense of the instructions, particularly around the shoulders.

The bias binding at the hem should have been home-made, but I didn't have enough fabric, so used shop-bought.
Apologies for blinding you with my day-glo-white arms!  They haven't seen the light of day for a year, if not two.

And that, right there, is my biggest issue with this blouse.  It fits me really well.  There is no gape-age across the front chest. It is nice and neat under the arms with no embarrassing bra-flash back or front. It is a really cute style.
When is it ever going to be warm enough in Aberdeenshire for me to wear a sleeveless top?!
I think the only thing I can do is to make / buy a metric tonne of cardigan-age.  Because I want more of these tops in my life.
This was intended as a wearable muslin, and wear it I will!
I have some beautiful taupe silk/cotton mix and a fine printed voile, both of which are crying out to become Datura blouses, yardage permitting... so watch this space!