Thursday, December 23, 2010

Drawing to a close

Quilt Top

Grumbles lay on the couch and watched with bemused bewilderment as her mother tore through the house, emptying drawers, checking under beds and upturning boxes, all the while muttering feverishly to herself.

"I can't believe it's gone!" she wailed, looking into a rather large box marked "Completed Projects That Need To Be Photographed For Blog", before shoving it away and sticking her head in the cupboards of the buffet.

"What is it, Mum?" queried Grumbles, as Jorth frantically dug through another box labelled "Blog Fodder - Warning: May Be Covered In Dust And Cobwebs." Jorth, however, ignored her, as she was too busy muttering "Seriously! Where the heck could it have got to? It simply HAS to be around here somewhere!"

"MUUUUUUUM!" brayed Grumbles in that particular vocal tone that can usually, without fail, slice it's unattractive way through any parent's inattentive daze, "What have you lost?"

Jorth snapped her head around and said "Ahah! It's not hiding under that quilt top that needs to be sandwiched, is it?" Poking her head under the fabric, she exclaimed "Damn! Not here either!", and with that slumped onto the floor in defeat.

"Just tell me what you're looking for!" pleaded Grumbles. Jorth looked up into her hopeful face with despair, and said "It's the year! I can't find it anywhere. Last time I checked it was, what, August and now it's the 23rd of December. Tell me, oh dearest offspring, how can that be?"

"That's just the way it goes, Mum" offered Grumbles philosophically. "Besides, since we're making an actual appearance on the blog, don't you think we should wish all your readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year?"

"Whaa?" said Jorth, her eyes sweeping distractedly under the table in the hope that a few stray months might be found lurking under there. "Oh yeah, Happy New.... hang on! That's it! The New Year!" Clutching at her daughter's hand, Jorth said excitedly "D'ye suppose that I can cram all of the stuff I was meant to finish/blog/document this year into next year? I could update every day, and become one of those bloggers that you can rely on to always be posting something exciting! Whaddya think, tiger?"

Privately Grumbles thought that we'd all heard that song before, but she was loath to crush the optimistic spirit in her mother's eyes, so she just squeezed the hand back and said "As you always say to me, you can do and be anything you want - you've just got to set your mind to it."

"I concur completely!" said Jorth, finally catching a little of that merry festive spirit. "Bring on 2011! I've got big plans for you. Big plans!"

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Now I don't know what you've been up to of late, but I've been doing lots of walking. I mean, I'm always walking because I don't drive a car, but this time I've taken it a step (heheh!) further and gone bushwalking!

We drove into Wilson's Promontory at dusk, and the place was seriously teeming with wildlife. We saw kangaroos, wallabies, emus and even a dopey looking koala scavenging grasses on the side of the road.

Wilson's Prom 1

After camping that night at Tidal River, we set off the next day to walk to Sealer's Cove. The scenery is magnificent. One minute you are scaling rocky switchbacks, then the next you are walking through bushfire-recovering forest. Before you know it you happen upon a grassy bald known as Windy Saddle, then you plunge into untouched rainforest before heading down to the desolate beach. Phenomenal.

Wilson's Prom 2

That evening we met a charming Italian guy (hi Francesco!) who had hurt his knee, and run out of food and water. We shared out foodstuffs with him, and walked out together in the morning. Not only was he fantastic company, but I've also never seen anybody so enthusiastic about dried apricots. Methinks he was pretty hungry!

Although I'm not a natural camper - I'm not ashamed to say I like my creature comforts - the experience of being in such unspoilt wilderness made any lack of comfort worth it. We're already planning our next expedition, particularly Grumbles who thought she was in heaven. Any recommendations, anybody?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Shirred Dress Tutorial


Summertime, and the living is eeeeeaaasy... actually no - it's already darn hot, so what better time to do a shirred dress tutorial for you all than now, hey? This dress is super simple to whip up. You won't even need a pattern, just a measuring tape and some lovely fabric. So let's get measuring, and get ready to sew!

Things you will need:
Fabric of your choice (I suggest a lightweight cotton, as you don't want anything too heavy for a shirred dress)
Elastic thread
1cm wide elastic
Matching thread

For the record, I used a Liberty Tana Lawn from Tessuti Fabrics that I had hiding away in my stash.

Step 1:
Firstly you need to measure how much fabric you will need. I measured around Grumble's torso, and then multiplied that measurement by two plus seam allowances to get the total width of the dress. The shirred part will stretch over to fit the bust nicely, without feeling too tight.

Here are the standard torso measurements for children, based on Australian Standards:

Children's Measurements
Size        Age                    Height                  Chest
2            2 - 3 years            92cm                   56cm
3            3 - 4 years            100cm                 58cm
4            4 - 5 years            108cm                 60cm
5            5 - 6 years            115cm                 62cm
6            6 - 7 years            120cm                 64cm
7            7 - 8 years            125cm                 66cm
8            8 - 9 years            130 - 140cm        68cm
10          10 - 11 years        140 - 150cm        74 - 80cm
11          11 - 12 years        150 - 160cm        80 - 86cm
12          12 - 13 years        155 - 160cm        86 - 90cm
13          13 - 14 years        160 - 165cm        90 - 95cm
14          14 - 15 years        165 - 170cm        95 - 100cm

Or, if you decide you'd rather make a shirred dress for yourself, here are the standard women's measurements, based on Australian Standards:

Women's Measurements
Size              Bust                     Waist                      Hip
XS               75 - 80cm            56 - 61cm               84 - 88cm
S                  82 - 87cm            61 - 66cm               88 - 93cm
M                 92 - 97cm            71 - 76cm               98 - 103cm
L                  102 - 109cm        81 - 88cm               108 - 115cm
XL               115 - 121cm        94 - 100cm             121 - 127cm

Firstly you'll need to figure out your torso measurement, and then double that, then add seam allowances. For example, Grumbles had a torso measurement of 68cm. Multiplying that by two gives you 136cm. Adding seam allowances of 2cm to each side makes it 140cm. You'll be cutting out a front and a back, so divide that figure by two to get the width of each piece. In this case it is 70cm.

I decided that I wanted the dress to be mid-calf in length, so measured Grumbles once more. The resulting measurement was 65cm, from top of bust line to mid-calf. Adding 5cm for seam and casing allowances gave me a final figure of 70cm.

So my final pattern piece for both front and back was 70cm wide and 70cm long. Once you've figured yours out, cut two of these.

Hooray! The maths part is over. Let's move on to some actual sewing!

Step 2:

Once you have cut out your pattern pieces, overlock or finish all edges.

Step 3:
Sew one side seam together, leaving the other side seam open.

Step 4:

Create the casing for the elastic. On the wrong side turn over the overlocked edge and press, then turn over again to create a 1.3cm wide casing. Press. Stitch the casing close to the edge. Oh, and try not to laugh at my daggy ironing board.

Step 5:

Before you begin to shirr, you'll need to have changed your normal bobbin for one that has been tightly wound with elastic thread. If the elastic thread isn't tightly wound onto the bobbin, then the elasticised effect will not occur. It's easiest to do this by hand, stretching tight the thread as you wind it onto the bobbin.

Now let the shirring begin! On the right side stitch a foot width away from the casing stitching. As you sew the elastic will cause the shirred part to bunch up behind your machine foot. It's pretty exciting!

Step 6:

Repeat the shirring a foot width away until you have done 10 rows, or until you have shirred for your desired amount. If you are large busted you may want to shirr more than 10, or if you are making it for a very young child you may want to shirr for less than 10 rows. Figure out what you'll be most comfortable with, and go from there.

You will probably need to re-wind your bobbin with more elastic thread every few rows. As you shirr, straighten out the fabric - it helps you keep a straight line.

Step 7:
Once the shirring has been completed, insert the desired length of 1cm wide elastic (measure it around the torso to see what length feels comfortable) into the casing at the top of the dress, tacking it to each end to keep it in place.

Then with right sides facing sew your other side seam together. I like to sew over the shirred part twice, just to reinforce the elastic thread. We don't want any of them wriggling loose now!

Then hem the bottom of the dress.

Step 8:

Measure out how long your shoulder straps will be, then cut a two 3cm strips of fabric this length. Folding the strips in two with right sides together, sew close to the edge of the strap. Trim seam allowances, then inside-out the strips. Attach the shoulder straps to the inside of the back and the front of the dress in your desired position. I find with Grumbles that the straps don't slip off her shoulders so much if I cross them over at the back.

Now pat yourself on the back and do a happy dance - you've completed a shirred dress!


Thursday, November 04, 2010

My favourite black pants

The perfect pair of black pants. It's like the holy grail of fashion, isn't it - that and finding the perfect pair of jeans. Sometimes it can feel like mission impossible. Does such a thing truly exist?

Now, I don't know about you, but it feels like my own personal search for the holy grail has gone on for years. Most of the time it ends up with tears in change rooms and whimpers of "Nagdammit! My bum DOES look big in these!" Or, perversely, you find a pair that might just fit the bill, and then have a look at the price tag, which means that even if the pants come close to perfect, the price you must pay doesn't, so back on the rack they go. And so the search would go on. Every where you looked, black pants would dangle on their hangers catching your eye but there was always something wrong: legs too long, legs too wide, legs to short, waist too high, seat too baggy, fabric too nasty, cut too fugly. You find yourself back at home wearing your old faithful pair that have been washed and worn too many times and is starting to look beyond sad, but what choice do you have? The new perfect pair still eludes you.

If you've been in this situation, and feel like your search will never come to an end then rejoice, dear friends, rejoice! For I, Jorth, have gone boldly into black pant territory where many fear to tread, and have found the perfect pair indeed!

Ok, ok - so the caveat is that you'll have to make them yourself. But trust me - the best part about these pants is that they were a cinch, an absolute cinch to whip up. Hoorah!

Black Pleated Pants

Project Details
Pattern: #105 from Burda Style Magazine 6/2010
Fabric: 1.5m of "Something Black", a luscious cotton/viscose blend from Tessuti Fabrics. This fabric was so lovely to work with.
Notions: 22cm invisible zip, and interfacing for the waist band

Just in case you haven't guessed, I love these pants! They are super comfy to wear, and the weight is perfect for summer. I made mine up in size 36 without the side seam allowances, which means that they sit loosely on my waist, which is exactly how I like my summer pants to be. The fabric has a lovely sheen to it, which instantly makes the pants look quite dressy, particularly with the pleat details. I'm planning another pair for winter, but in a wool blend.

Besides the seam allowances, the only other alteration I made was to straighten and lengthen the leg. The original pattern calls for a curved hem on the pant going along the inside leg seam, but aesthetically that didn't appeal, so I made mine straight instead.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010


We're not really into celebrating Halloween here at chez Jorth. In fact, as a holiday it's never really taken off in Australia at all. However, Grumbles has been learning about it at school and has become quite gung-ho about decorating the house.
After she came home and presented me with her umpteenth scribbled pumpkin head ("Look Mum! Isn't it scary? Mum: Um, surrrrre!") I decided to take matters a step further, and enforced a family decorating session on Saturday night. Anything to keep the fambly happy, right?

It was a complete and utter debacle. Galumph, who was in charge of cutting out the face pieces, keep doing them out of the wrong paper. Grumbles decided that pleating paper wasn't really her thing, and kept wandering off to do other things, and I developed a bad case of sticky tape rage.

Due to my sticky tape rage, I actually morphed into a ghoul, berating my poor husband with snitchy comments like "If you don't cut out a black eye instead of a white one, I'll GIVE you a black eye!" We all ended up with a bad case of the Halloween blues, not helped by the fact that the darn decorations wouldn't even stay in place when we tried to hang them up.

I know that you're wondering about the masterpieces we created after all that energy was expended. Let's just say that I'm hanging up my Halloween crafting crown, because they really are pretty crap:
The only thing scary about these is the fact that I insisted on making them in the first place! Bloody Martha Stewart. Never again! I'm sticking to sewing from now on.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Pink Baby Shrug

Pink Baby Shrug

It feels a bit weird to be sitting inside on a 28 C day, knitting away despite the sunshine calling my name, but I've become an aunty for the first time on my husband's side so I couldn't let this momentous occasion slip by without a handknit now, could I?

Besides, I'm a big believer in welcoming a brand new, much-longed-for soul into the world with their very own knit, made for nobody else but them. And despite the copious sunshine today, the weather is predicted to take a turn for the worse, if not for the nasty, so while it will be bad for all the hypothermic race goers, it will be pleasant indeed for me. I shall spend the weekend contentedly perched on the couch, knitting away with a cup of tea near by, happily listening to the rain as I think joyful thoughts about the wee one that has come safely into this world.

Besides, how stinkin' cute is this knit? The pattern is a Debbie Bliss one, and better than that - it's a FREE Debbie Bliss one. Hoorah! You can get your paws on the pattern right over here.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Four sheets to the wind (or a striped, nautical style top!)

Striped Top

I'm totally feeling the nautical vibe this summer, and as soon as I saw this pattern in the 2/2010 Burda Magazine, I knew this top had to be made. In fact, I may* have even uttered a little "Arrrrrr! That top will be better than a frigate off the starboard side with all canon's a-firing!"**

So shiver me timbers, I whipped it up before a sewing mutiny could occur, and I was forced to walk the overlocker plank.

What? Me hearties want the gory details? Well, all hands to deck and set yer sails: here are the deets before you get your fishing lines knickers in a sailor's knot:

Project Details
Pattern: Striped Top from Burda Magazine 2/2010
Fabric: Jersey knit from Tessuti Fabrics

This was a very quick and easy top to sew together. I did add some pleats to the sleeve raglan edge, and this made the neckline fit much better. I made it up in size 34, and didn't add any of the side seam allowances as I find the Burda cut can be a little on the generous side, and I wanted a nice, fitted style top.

*Any excuse to do a crusty old pirate voice!
**Actually, I think most things are better than that particular situation.
***Many thanks to dear husband and all his years of reading/watching Hornblower for the ship shape navy terms.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Sneak peek...

Drape Drape Dress 2

...of a little bit of "Drape Drape 2" dress manipulation I've been doing. And boy, is it fun!

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Stripey Bandit

There's a new bandit in town. You'll know her by her clever disguise - she can bounce the sun's glare directly into your eyes from her mask, rendering you blind and enabling her a quick get away.

You may also know her by her dodgy dance moves. The Stripey Bandit sure does like to rock on!

Stripey Dress 1

Stripey Dress 2

Stripey Dress 3

Project Details

Pattern: Dress #12 from Ottobre Design Magazine 2/2005
Fabric: 1m of stripey cotton print, which wasn't quite enough - boy did I do some head scratching trying to fit all the pattern pieces in! Still, yet enough stash buster, so I'm pleased.
Notions: elastic for sleeves and neckline

I adore this dress - I'm so happy with how the stripes look going both ways. It's a winner!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Ride To Work Day!


Don't forget, fellow Australians, that tomorrow is Ride To Work Day! You can bet that I'll be proudly mounting my faithful blue steed (hmmm, that sounded rather wrong!) and pedalling in to work after scoffing my FREE BREAKFAST organised by the good folks at Bicycle Victoria.
If you see me pedalling along, feel free to wave - although I will be honest: I will put the heels in my bike basket and pedal safely in my daggy old sandals.

So that is how you shall know me - I'll be the one with the cool dress but awful shoes, replete with distended stomach doing free coffee/muffin/croissant/fruit salad burps as I ride maybe not so gracefully into work. Still, it beats being stuck in traffic or wedged into somebody's armpit on public transport. Viva la velo!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Red Peasant Blouse

Now, forgive me if I'm wrong...

Red Peasant Top 2

Red Peasant Top 1

...but I think somebody is rather pleased with her new top!

Project Details
Pattern: Peasant Blouse from Ottobre Magazine 2/2005
Fabric: 50cm cotton from stash. Love a stash project!
Notions: elastic for sleeves and neck edge, plus shirring elastic

Watch out for more of these this summer!

Friday, October 08, 2010

Jorth vs Fabric Scraps

Oh my sainted aunt - what is that... that thing vomitting all over my kitchen table?


Before I end your suspense, a little background: today I had the day off work, and decided to get cracking on Grumble's summer wardrobe. Foolish me thought it would be a mere matter of opening the bureau door and fishing out the fabric I had in mind, but instead I was confronted with a jumble of fabrics all threatening to spill out of the over packed cupboard, and all baying for attention with the same refrain: "Remember me? I was meant to be a dress by now! So when you gonna sew me up, huh? HUH?"

With a sigh I set aside my initial intention, got down on my hands and knees and began the job of sorting through the fabric stash, and figuring out my plans. Fabric that I did have a specific project in mind for was neatly folded up with the corresponding pattern placed on top, and carefully lined up on the shelf. Scrappy bits that were kept for whatever reason were reevaluated, and either consigned to the op-shop bag or to the 'other projects' pile. And all those weird odds and sods were put into a bag to be donated to the local kindergarten.

After working steadily for a good half hour, I rocked back onto my heels and surveyed with satisfaction the work I had done. But alas! I had forgotten the scrap bag. Now that I came to think of it, I hadn't come upon the fabric I wanted for Grumble's top, so I took the scrap bag out to the kitchen table, and began to hunt for it.

All those scraps - mostly left over pieces from clothes I had made for Grumbles - spilled out onto the table. Here was a piece from her first summer dress. Here was a piece from the jeans I had made, and lined with spotted cotton. Here was a piece from the top she wore on her first day of kinder. Here was a piece for each day we were happy, sitting in the sun, just my girl and me. Each one felt like a precious memory, and couldn't be thrown away, but collectively the bag seemed to be taunting me. "LOOOOOK!" the scraps brayed, "Look at all these pieces left from the clothes you made your child. Clothes for a little girl that you can never make again, because your daughter is growing up faster than you would like, and you can't have any more children, so you'll never be able to make those clothes again. BWAHAHAHAHAHAH!"

Good grief! It was like the fabric elephant in the room had come to life. I almost burst into tears looking at all the pieces. The worst thing is, though, that even though I don't want these scraps to hang around as a reminder of what-might-have-been, I don't want to throw them either. The bittersweet memories were suddenly too much, and I was feeling them too deeply. I was standing in my kitchen, having a meltdown over a bag of cloth, battling to keep my emotions in check. But bloody hell - the cloth scraps were winning!

Then I thought of something. My salvation, so to speak. I would make the scraps into a yo yo garland! That way I could do something useful with the scraps, and keep the happy memories associated alive, but could put it away when I tired of it.

Restraining myself from doing a little happy jig, I leaned in and whispered to the fabric bag "So! What do you think of my clever plan?"

The scrap bag was silent. It knew a winner when it saw one.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Pattern Review: Vogue 8615

Spotted Ruffled Skirt Dress

So here is the latest little number, straight off the sewing machine: Vogue 8615. This is a very retro-feeling dress, and the full skirt is meant to be worn with a petticoat, but to be honest with you all, I'm not really a petticoat kinda gal (ha! can you imagine me trying to ride my bike with all that tulle flip-flopping around?) so I decided to randomly gather up the skirt in a haphazard fashion to create my own version of fullness.

Not to blow my own horn, but gosh darn, it looks spiffy! I think this is my favourite dress so far this year! And to top off my joy, my invisible zip in the back is perfect! I invented a little trick to make the zip go in easier: firstly I sewed one side of the zip in, and then I did the zip up and basted the other side of the zip in where the waistband seams met, so that they lined up correctly. Then I sewed the other side of the zip in. Easy peasy - I'll be doing all my zips in this fashion from now on.

But here, old buddies old pals, is where the joy ends. This pattern, I hate to say, is not well drafted. The sleeve in particular is a complete joke. The sleeve cap simply did not fit correctly into the armhole. The amount of ease was ridiculous. I sat there for a full 40 minutes, trying desperately to fit the cap into the arm hole, but it was far too large. In the end I gathered the sleeve cap, and sewed it in that way, so I have a slight puff sleeve cap, which looks fine, but isn't how the pattern ought to be. That was quite disappointing.

Despite all that room in the sleeve cap, the actual cap height (the distance from the biceps to the top of the sleeve cap, running straight along the grain line) is bizarrely tight feeling. Gah! Stupid, stupid sleeve! If I had any spare fabric I think I would have drafted up my own pattern piece and cut a new sleeve out - one that actually fit and was comfortable to wear.

Another change I made was to ignore the bodice seam line. Seriously - who wants a seam running straight down their front? From a fitting point of view it wouldn't make any difference for a small busted girl like myself, so I cut the bodice on the fold, taking off the 1.5cm seam allowance. It looks much, much better that way, and I have no dissection line running down my sagittal plane.

Also, since I knew from the beginning that I wanted to make my skirt crazily gathered, I omitted putting the pockets in, since I didn't know exactly where I would put the gathers until I was standing in the dress figuring it out whilst looking in the mirror, and I suspected that the pocket holes might sit oddly. So I left them out. As somebody noted to me, I could hide my lunch in all the folds and gathers, and nobody would be any the wiser, so who needs pockets, eh?

So, to conclude: After making my changes I am happy with the dress, but it's not a pattern that I would recommend in a hurry.

Project Details
Pattern: Vogue 8615
Fabric: 3.6m Imazu Spotted - Night Japanese cotton from Tessuti Fabrics (you can see a navy version here), and 50cm silk/cotton voile for lining
Notions: 40cm invisible zip

Friday, September 10, 2010

I'm so glad my girl can make her own fun...


...even if it does come off as slightly deranged sometimes!

(Not that she would get that from her mother. Uh uh. Not at all!)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What the Knitting SWAT team would see...

Phildar Magazines

Control Centre: Knitting Surveillance, can you call in with your location and target please copy over.

KS: CC, currently outside target's home... she's been knitting, but has just taken a delivery...over

CC: Delivery? Can we get a zoom in on that? Is it contraband? Over.

KS: Nope, French knitting magazines... Phildar, I think. Yes, confirmation, five Phildar mags, over.

KS: Update, CC, update! Target has changed location. She remains at home, but is now on the couch, nursing a cup of tea and sighing contentedly whilst flicking through magazines.

Control Centre: Come on in to office, Knitting Surveillance... that target won't be going anywhere this afternoon. You guys may as well take a load off. Over and out.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Green Polly

Green Cardi 1

Green Cardi 2

Green Cardi 3

Fresh off the needles is the first outfit completed for the "Handmade For Grumbles" campaign: a super cute green cotton cardigan for summer, which she is wearing with her Three Way Dress. Yes, yes, I know - it's still freezing cold here, but at my current pace I need to get started early if the poor kid is going to be clothed this summer!
It was quite a quick knit - in fact, it would have been even quicker if I hadn't let the pieces sit around for a couple of weeks whilst I regarded them with a grumpy look and a sore back and decided I would sew them tomorrow, honestly, I'll do it tomorrow, but once I sat down the sewing was done relatively soon. Even picking up all the stitches for the neckband was pretty easy, and that's a job I usually detest.

I didn't bother blocking the pieces in the usual fashion, which is to wet the knitted pieces, carefully pin them to a blocking board, and then leave for at least 24 hours for the pieces to dry. Instead I used a sneaky trick of my own devising, which is to put a wet tea towel over the knitted piece which has been placed on the ironing board, and then iron the billy-oh out of it. I'm sure Elizabeth Zimmerman is rolling in her grave right now, but the technique works for me. And, yes, I'll confess: I do this on all my finished knitted pieces, bad bad me. You're reading the writing of the last of the knitting rebels, folks!

Project Details
Pattern: Polly from Rowan Kids
Yarn: 3 balls of Jo Sharp Soho Summer DK Cotton
Needles: 4mm and 3mm (I used a size down to get gauge)
Button: Shell button from Tessuti Fabrics

Details on Ravely here.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Craft Spring Cleaning


I'm not sure if it's the extra sunshine in the air, or fact that I have my usual amount of mobility back, but I have been taken by the sudden, not-to-be-ignored urge to do some craft spring cleaning. I look around our tiny home, and shudder at the wips and ufos that are lying about, adding nothing but an air of clutter and an atmosphere of crafting guilt at their unfinished states to our home. I feel like they are dragging me down, down, down to the very depths of a rut of incompleteness. And that, to quote Mary Poppins, will never do!

So this morning has been spent finding all these projects, and deciding what to do with them. The above was formerly the back of the lovely Cherry by Anna Bell, which for some reason that I seriously cannot fathom now was lying in a box under the bed with it's needles pulled out. Taking it out and shaking off the dust, I tried to read my knitting notes (I take copious notes when knitting - does anybody else?) but found them to be as unilluminating to my mind as hieroglyphics. What the heck was I jotting down? Unable to interpret myself, I frogged with a grim face, and decided that this project could be tackled at a later date, once other things had been completed and the weather was more suitable to wearing a cute summery cardigan.

I will admit to a slight twinge of sadness as I frogged - I remembered so very clearly beginning the cardigan as I sat next to Grumbles on the front stoop of our old home, I basking in the sunshine as I cast on and wrangled with my cable needle, Grumbles besides me slurping away on a succession of home made frozen yoghurt icy-poles, watching our hunky, usually shirtless neighbour berating his girlfriend at the top of his voice - even, at times, chasing her down the street as she sped off in his car - before turning to us, giving a friendly wave and saying "Hey duuuudes, how ya doin?" Apart from the whole yelling-at-his-girlfriend thing (and to totally honest, she ignored him completely, so she didn't seem to bothered by it all) he was a pretty friendly guy. I miss those days!

Oh, and don't fear, fellow knitters, about the frogging - to be honest, my tension was spectacularly crap, as I hadn't really gotten the hang of knitting with cotton at that stage, so it truly is all for the best! That's what happens why you focus more on the sunshine, Grumble's company and the street's spectacles than knitting with cotton. Lesson learned.

Back to spring cleaning: My other Yoga Wrap, which travelled around Europe with us, only to be worked on for a couple of rows at the very most before I realised that knitting on trains gives me motion sickness has been pulled out, with a pledge to finish it before the cool weather disappears. Likewise the coat and dress I have cut out and sitting on top of the buffet that houses all of my sewing gear - these too have been moved up the sewing queue.

And yesterday I finished the summer cardigan I have been working on for Grumbles (pics soon, promise!) so really, things are moving along at a cracking speed. And that, my friends, feels gooooooood!

If only I had such a can-do attitude to spring cleaning the dust bunnies under the bed...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Spotty Sewing

Ack! It has not been exactly a barrel of laughs chez Jorth of late. Firstly I got a sore back - which, I can assure you, wasn't enhanced by falling down our stairs a few days later - and so have been seeing a chiro for the last few weeks. She's doing a fabulous job, but oh my goodness my poor stubborn muscles are not liking being forced back into their original configurations, much preferring their lazy, hunching positions thanks very much. I can almost hear them muttering to themselves: "Why let Jorthy stand up nice and straight when she's the one who has made us hunch over a computer/sewing machine/knitting needles for all these years? The crafty old sod deserves all the pain we can give her!" So it's constant hobbling and wincing from me at the moment, hence the lack of, oh gee, any projects whatsoever. Seriously - some mornings sitting down to eat breakfast has been an ordeal, so crafting has been totally out of the question. Sigh.

However I had pretty much reread the entire Bill Bryson oeuvre for want of anything else to do, so not all is lost.

Poor Galumph, meanwhile, did something nasty to his neck on Friday, so he's been flat on his back for the last five days, only raising himself up with moans and groans to see the osteopath, who makes him moan and groan some more. It's been so pathetic around here (truly, there is no other word!) that Grumbles has taken to wringing her hands and declaring to the world at large that "My family is falling apart on me!"
Still, I do feel somewhat better (and more mobile!) today, so I have cut out a new project. Huzzah! Is this, perchance, a sign that life may life soon be returning to normal? I BLOODY WELL HOPE SO!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

And the winner of the Liberty Jersey giveaway is...


...according, of course, to the good folk at! Well done Fer, and thanks to everybody for entering the comp. Sniff, sniff - it was so sweet to get so many lovely birthday and blog wishes. Thanks guys!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Making our own

Grumbles, bless her heart, has decided that this summer she wants me to make all of her clothes for her. In fact, the cheeky monkey has insisted, and has even decreed that she wants to take the Hand Made Pledge (cos hand made is better, Mum!)

Since I took the Hand Made Pledge myself at the beginning of the year, and (apart from one purchase) have made my entire wardrobe this year, who was I to argue? Anything that stops suppporting the ghastly treatment of downtrodden textiles workers is fine by me.

So, even though the Melbourne has been grey and drab and frankly freeeeezing this week, I have begun to get a start on her summer wardrobe. I've had to - she had already outgrown lasts years shorts...last summer. It was all getting a bit too Kylie-in-gold-hotpants-looking, or in other words the kid desperately needs summer clothes pronto! Presenting yet another Three Way Dress from Ottobre Design Magazine 3/2009:

Three Way Dress

And one last reminder: If you haven't already entered, don't forget about the Liberty Jersey birthday giveaway. Hoorah!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Liberty Dress

Liberty Dress
What's a girl to do when it's raining, it's pouring, the light is fading rapidly but she has a brand new Liberty jersey print dress to show off?

Get out and take a pic anyway, using her daughter's totally sophisticated bird umbrella as a prop!

Totally, totally loving this dress. The Liberty was an absolute dream to work with. It was so well behaved, and didn't do any of that nasty stretching or buckling that some jerseys can do when you sew with them. Bliss!

Project Details
Pattern: McCalls 5752
Fabric: 2.4m Liberty Jersey from Tessuti Fabrics

To be honest, though, I did find the pattern to be a bit needlessly fiddly. The mid section, for example, had you gather pieces which were then sewn onto a backing. All well and good, but then they ask you to sew another facing onto the back of that. Needless to say, I didn't both doing that, as it seemed (a) pointlesss and (b) like it would do nothing but add extra bulk to the mid section. Trust me - after having a child, you want to minimise bulk in that area at all costs!

Apart from that it was a fairly simple pattern to make. Although, you could probably make a sack out of Liberty, and it would look awesome!

PS: If you haven't already, don't forget to enter the Liberty jersey giveaway!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Happy Birthday to me... and a Liberty Jersey giveaway!

Today is my 33rd birthday - hoorah! As a way to celebrate the milestone, and also as a way to give a big thank you to all my lovely readers, I'm having a birthday giveaway.

What's this we have over here? Could it be... is it really... well, shake my boots - it's 1.5 metres of Liberty Jersey goodness!

Liberty Jersey

All you need to do to get your hot little hands on the Rolls Royce of fabrics is to leave a comment, and be a follower of my blog. If you're not already a follower then scoot on over and become one. Really, it's too easy! Make sure you leave your name/blog address in the comment so I can find you easily. I'm happy to ship world wide (good grief, this aging business sure is making me generous!) so skedaddle to the comments section and give yourself a fighting chance!

The competition shall remain open until Monday 26th July. Best of luck, and thanks for being the best blog readers in the whole flipping world!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sneak peek...


...of what I'm pretty sure is going to be my new favourite dress. Liberty jersey - what's not to love?!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Vogue 8511 - The Shorty Short Version

It was a beautiful sunny day, and Jorth was riding her bike to work wearing her new Vogue 8511 when she heard the tell tale siren of a police car behind her, warning somebody to pull over. With a shock, Jorth realised the siren was for her. In a panic, she quickly gave her bike the once over. Lights present and flashing? Check. Helmet on? Check. Reflectors in all the right places? Check. What could possibly be the problem?

As she pulled over and dismounted from her bike, the police slowed down, rolled down their window and said "Nice legs there, short skirt!" and then drove off in a puff of exhaust fumes and macho chuckling.

"Nagdammit!" said a red-faced Jorth, climbing back on the bike in a huff. "I knew I shouldn't have shortened the skirt by 16cm. What the heck was I thinking?"

She then rode off, all too aware of the breeze freely circulating around her nether regions and promising herself this would be the last time she wore such a short skirt whilst riding her bike.***


***I'd just like to clarify that this didn't actually happen. I am well aware that our policemen (and woman) are hardworking people doing what can be at times a ghastly job, and not only do I take my hat off to them but regard them with nothing but respect. I just let my imagination run away from me when writing this post in the hope that blog readers would get a chuckle out of it. Sorry for any confusion caused! It truly is nothing but a piece of fiction. However the sad chopping off of 16cm of fabric? That, alas, is the truth...

Project Details
Pattern: Vogue 8511
Fabric: 1.6m Japanese cotton from Tessuti Fabrics
Notions: 22" zip, hook and eye

Well, as regular readers will know this is the third (oh the shame!) version of this dress I've made. Really, I promise I will stop now. Even though it's so easy to whip up, and is super comfy to wear, and - apart from issues of public decency and self-modesty - is rather easy to ride a bike in.

What can I say? I like to get my money's worth out of a pattern!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Knitting Like Fury

Yikes! I really should have made some annoucement concerning my disappearing act during the school holidays. The truth is, I didn't actually mean to disappear. I had every intention of updating this old blog, but I was just enjoying being with Grumbles so much that I kept thinking "Ach! Blog can wait! I'll do it tomorrow..."

But as James Bond can tell you, tomorrow never comes. Well, not at least until now anyway.

Rest assured, dear readers, that it has not been all lying-on-couch-and-eating-bonbons. In fact, the last two days have been spent knitting like fury. You see, my dear friend had a baby rather unexpectedly (and darn quickly - 3 hours from whoa to go!) four weeks early, and the poor little chap had nothing to wear that would actually fit him, so to rescue came I with an impromptu handknit. Saturday afternoon found me rushing into the city for this:


...and then after knitting for four furious hours on Saturday night (oh yeah baby, we know how to party chez Jorth!) then another four on Sunday morning found me happily wrapping up this:


Ok, so I gave myself sore wrists in the process, but wee little Logan and his warmth needs were worth it. Besides, I can think of no better omen for a happy life than being welcomed into the world with a garment that was made by hands, each stitch done with love, and it was all done just for you.

Project Details
Pattern: Ribbed Baby Jacket by Debbie Bliss, size 0 - 3 months
Yarn: 3 balls of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran
Needles: 4.5mm and 5mm

Note: The pattern calls for 4 balls to make the 0 - 3 size, but I used a scant 3 balls, which kinda ticked me off a bit. So be warned - that extra ball is simply not needed, so save yourself the $13.10!

Friday, June 25, 2010

You are the sunshine of my life


Yesterday, on Grumble's last day of being 5, we walked to school happily chatting about what a big year being 5 has been for her, and all the things that she has achieved.

"I learnt to ride a bike by myself!"
"And a scooter"
"And to swim! And we went on an aeroplane!"
"That's right, Tiger. And do you remember that we went on a train under the water - and even a train on a boat?"
"That's crazy! And we went to Switzerland! And to the zoo!"
"Not sure that I'd put those two in the same category, but yes, we did. And you started school this year."
"And now I can read! And write!"
"You sure can, honey. And you got to meet your English Great-Grandparents..."
"Groff and Gram-Gram! And I was sick on the aeroplane - I remember that!"

And so on we walked, happily reminiscing about all the things that Grumbles had done that year for the very first time. Although, by the end of the walk we were somewhat running out of achievements. I believe the last one she came up with was this:

"And I learnt to lick the cheese sauce out of the saucepan!"

Oh my darling girl. Don't ever change! I am as proud as punch to be your mum, and to be lucky enough to experience the untrammelled delight that every moment with you brings.

And thank you, God, for allowing me to stick around to watch my little girl grow up. I'm so glad that I was able to wrestle with death that day, and win. I wouldn't have missed being with Grumbles for the world.

Happy 6th birthday, my love.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

How to win friends and influence people


When getting together with new friends for a coffee for the first time, one should follow these steps in order to guarantee a successful meeting.

1 - Be on time. People appreciate your punctuality. Unlike Jorth, who left the house with a scant 5 minutes to spare, and then practically had to run the 2kms to the cafe, whereupon arriving she spent the next 10 minutes apologising for how late she was, and how puffed out, and maybe a glass of water gulp gulp gulp more water gulp gulp gee whiz I'm puffed and hot are you hot gulp gulp gulp ok so maybe it's just me gulp gulp.

2 - Listen carefully to your companion, and ask questions with thoughtful details that show you have been paying attention. You lived in London, you say? Geez, I love London...heavens my nose is running... heehee maybe because I ran all the way, I think I have a tissue somewhere hooooooonkhoooooonkhooooonk so London, do tell me more hooooooonk hoooooooonk oh my nose, I'm streaming! Yes, London's great, isn't it hoooooooooooooooonk sniffle sniffle honk.

3 - Hold up your end of the conversation, but beware of monopolising it. Yes, so after I stopped working as a technical writer I choke choke choke oh my sainted aunt my tea has totally gone down the wrong way choke choke choke yes I know I should stop talking but choke choke geez I can't even breath choke choke cough hack choke now I'm crying for Pete's sake choke choke anyway tech choke writing choke choke ok, hang on just choke give me a minute and perhaps some water choke chokity choke oh sh*t I drank all my bloody water choke hack choke gulp gulp gulp.................[stupefied silence from both parties, with the occasional gasp for breath by Jorth]

So, simply follow these three easy steps and you'll be on your way to winning new friends in no time. Best of luck!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Damn that looks tasty!


Is it wrong to eat muesli for lunch? Because looking at this shot - which I took on the weekend for the Big Harvest cafe - is making me want to just dive on in to that compotey, yoghurty goodness. Yum!
If anybody wants me, I'll be here, licking my monitor. Because, alas, my cupboard is bare, and try as I might I can't find any yoghurt in my fridge. Damn. Must. Go. Food. Shopping. ASAP.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Ruffle Backed Pinafore



Project Details
Pattern: Pinafore from Ottobre Magazine 1/2007
Fabric: Ryder Denim from Tessuti Fabrics
Notions: 2 recycled buttons from stash

Such a cute and easy pinafore to whip up. The hardest part was doing the rolled edges on the ruffles (fact for the future: denim fabric does not like being rolled) but we got there in the end. You could just edge them with overlocking, or even do a wee little hem, but you wouldn't get that true ruffle look that you get with the rolled edge, so it was worth the swearing effort.

Handy little pattern, too. Winter versions could be done in denim, as above, or corduroy, and for summer they would look smashing done in printed cottons, chambrays or linens. Me likes, and Grumbles likes, which is the main thing. All in all I give it a big thumbs up!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The disgrunted dummy


Sabrina the ancient dressmaker's dummy gave a deep, disguntled sigh. As was the case for the past few days, the rest of the furniture ignored her. They were well aware of her sewing-based divatude, and had long ago decided the best policy was to ignore her completely.

But Sabrina would not be ignored. She gave another sigh, and then - with a fury that needed to be seen to be believed - burst forth with "Oh, I DO wish that Jorth would hurry up and finish this latest Vogue 8511. She's done the bodice, and put it on me in a rather nice fashion, but then what has she done with the skirt? Nothing, that's what, whilst she dithers about deciding what length to make it. Meanwhile I'm standing here, with nothing but a pinned on skirt front to protect my modesty! Let me tell you, fellow furniture, with this chilly weather we are having an older lady like myself could do with a bit more covering! Is a skirt back too much to ask? Hmmmmm?"

One little piano stool couldn't resist, and piped up "Oh, but dearest, we never hear you complain of the cold when you are naked!"

Sabrina glared at the insolent bench. "None of your cheek, young thing. Let me remind you that your comfy cushion will be flattened before you know it by hours of piano practice. I don't expect we'll be hearing any of your lofty opinions then. And speaking of, I thought Jorth had made a sewing pledge to get this dress finished. It appear to have gone the way of her blogging pledge. Oh she's a flighty one, she is. Gone and bought some Liberty jersey, and all thoughts of me and my needs have flown out the window."

Completely unaware of the conversation taking place, Jorth was getting out her overlocker, having decided that she would make the skirt on the shorter side. If she did hear any sighs from Sabrina she put it down to the wind that was rattling the window panes, and happily got out her scissors, unpinned the skirt front from the dummy (Oh! Sabrina gasped. The cold, cold drafts!) and got to work.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The sewing pledge


I, Jorth, do hereby solemnly swear on the sacred trinity of needle, thread and fabric, that I shall block out a nice big chunk of time to do some sewing today. I shall rush about at breakneck speed like a mad woman this morning, doing my errands, and then shall come home and sew like I've never sewn before.

I won't even stop, whilst out and about, to do The Age quiz with Max, the cantankerous book shop owner, despite it being our regular ritual. And let me tell you, I love beating him in the quiz, but such is my commitment to sewing that I shall make the sacrifice, even though it pains me.
It really is a pity about the quiz, as I can feel in my boots that it is my lucky day, but goshdarnit, the projects and stash are out of control. Sewing must, and will, be done!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Craft paralysis

Kidsilk Haze

I don't know what it is at the moment, but I just can't seem to settle down to any sort of craft activity. I have both a dress cut out and ready to sew, plus the above jumper I am knitting, but have completely lost interest in both.

This problem is compounded by the fact that we are now in the depths of winter. When the night falls as quickly as it does, all I want to do is crawl into bed with a good book. Some nights actually find me in bed, devouring my favourite Nancy Mitford a mere 15 minutes after Grumbles has been put down, and she goes to bed at 7:30!

Also, I feel like I'm doing a lot of rushing around the moment, and I'm just not getting any decent chunks of time in which to craft in. Oftentimes I'll find myself with half an hour before I need to go and pick up Grumbles from school. It doesn't seem worth the hassle to bring out and set up the sewing machine, and the thought of knitting is making me go bleugh (which does not bode well for any winter garments I hope to whip up!), so I instead find myself on The Guardian reading George Monbiot's latest missive. What George rails against is both fascinating and educational, but it's not helping me in the craft department.

This weekend, however, is a long one, so I'm determined to hunt down and utilise my crafting mojo. So watch this space - I may even produce a miracle and have a finished object to show you!

Monday, June 07, 2010

Organisation is the key!


It hasn't taken me long to figure out that the difference between a happy working Jorth and a nasty, grumpy, mean-tempered working Jorth is having a good supply of dinners tucked away into the freezer. Because, honestly, nothing will put me in a fouler mood than spending all day on my feet, and then having to come home and cook - particularly when it's wet and dark, and poor old Grumbles and I have had a 20 minute walk home in the freezing winter gloom.

And if I have to do dishes before I cook, then watch out - I am definitely not pleasant to be around (yes, it's a fault, I'm working on it!) So what I do now is to make double batches of any soups/lasagnes/casseroles that I'm making and have then waiting on standby for nights when I've worked.

It's heaven! All I have to do is pop whatever it is in the oven, and then whilst we wait Grumbles and I cuddle on the couch, catch up on each other's days, and if we are feeling particuarly industrious we even do her reader. And peace and harmony reigns once more.

Although, if all else fails, there is always omlettes...

Friday, June 04, 2010

Another one in the works

Vogue 8511

Jorth sat back in her chair and took the chewed up greylead pencil out of her mouth with a sigh. In front of her lay a sheet of paper headed Reasons For And Against Making Another Vogue 8511.

In the For column she had written the following:
 - It's the perfect dress for work! Comfy to wear, yet so smart looking. A guaranteed compliment getter!

 - So easy to ride my bike in (see above)

 - Easy to wash, easy to wear

 - It was a remnant piece of the perfect length. That's got to be an 8511 omen!

 - Perfect for autumn, winter and spring. Definitely will get loads of wear.

The Against column was looking a little more skimpy:

 - If I make it too short then I might be flashing some unwittingly exposing my underwear to poor motorists as I ride my bike.

 - This will be my third... it's almost as bad as Vogue 8184. What will people think?

Jorth, brow furrowed and lips pursed, suddenly snatched up the paper and crumpled it, muttering to herself "Damn what people think! It's a great dress, and I'm going to make myself another!" With that she turned to the kitchen table, and with brow suddenly unfurrowing and a smile playing upon her lips, began to cut another one out.

Monday, May 31, 2010

I'd like to get home in one piece, if that's not too much to ask

I have made the executive decision not to ride in the city anymore. My ride into - or rather toward - the city is fine - usually trouble free and rather enjoyable - but once I hit the CBD it feels like I am taking my life into my hands, and since I'd rather get home in one piece to the Grumbles and Galumph, it's not a feeling that I am relishing.

Now, I don't want to start a cyclists vs drivers debate (you know how it goes, both groups griping about how the other is worse) - all I will say is that I see of plenty of bad behaviour from both groups. But since winter has set in, and it gets dark so early, there seems to be a different mentality on the roads. Everybody is in such a frickin' hurry, which means that when they try and do that hook turn in front of the tram they don't necessarily look to see if poor old Jorthy is pedalling along.

I had such a near miss last week that the look of shock on the driver's face will forever be etched in my memory, as will the fright I felt as I realised that she hadn't seen me at all until I dinged my bell at her, and if I didn't slam on my brakes in a hurry then there would be a nice Jorth-sized crumple in her door, and me probabily in traction for a few weeks (if I was lucky). Then two blocks later, almost exactly the same thing happened. I was beginning to wonder if (a) I was invisible and (b) if I would ever make it home in one piece.

I'm not quite sure what I can do to make myself more visible to motorists. I ride - following every road rule perfectly, I must say - properly in the bike lane, give drivers plenty of indication and warning when I am going to make a turn, don my super daggy but highly visible yellow fluro bike vest when riding, and have uber bright lights on both the front and back of my bike. Yet it seems that as soon as I hit the city I am surrounded by some sort of magic fog that renders me completely invisible to drivers.

Part of me feels bad about walking my bike along the footpath instead of riding on the road, as the current wisdom says that the more riders there are on the actual road, the more drivers notice them and therefore drive with their safety in mind. But when you have so many near misses despite doing everything right, and you'd like to stick around to see your daughter grow up, then it seems that one has no options but to remove yourself for safety's sake - at least until you are out of the confines of the CBD.

UPDATE: Just like to say I'm not quitting riding my bike - ugh, that would mean waiting for the tram, and I'm far too impatient for that - I'm just not riding the last four blocks of my commute which are smack bang in the middle of the CBD. Give up riding? Never? I love the feel of the wind in my hair too much!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I love a piano (sing it with me!)


Two years after we purchased our piano I finally got around to beginning my piano lessons. Hoorah! I've always wanted to play the piano, ever since I was a wee slip of a thing. Family legend has it that when I was the ripe old age of four my Nanna sat me down and played a couple of tunes. I must have been watching intently, because I then proceeded to play the tunes myself, pretty much note perfect. Not too shabby for first time on the piano!

A few years later, when she was moving into a retirement village, she asked my parents if they would like the piano, but quelle horreur - they said no. So the piano went to my cousin instead, who had lessons for years. Despite this fact the only thing she can play now is the first few bars of the theme to The Muppet Show.

Isn't that the most tragic story you've ever heard? But don't despair - I shall be a thwarted piano genius no longer. Watch this space - I'll be banging out Bach in no time... or at the very least getting to the end of The Leila Fletcher Piano Course Book One (currently stuck in the middle... that playing with both hands bit has really got me confused!)