Friday, October 28, 2011

The Ran-Out-Of-Thread lament

Spotted Dress Dummy

"Well!" said the dress makers dummy with feeling. "I must say, it's very poor form for the overlocking thread to have just run out like that! And no more to be found in the thread drawer, either."

"Tell me about it!" groaned the half finished dress. "I was hoping that she might wear me over the weekend if the weather held out, but it looks like I'm plum outta luck until she gets more thread. Such dastard misfortune!"

"Cheer up chappies!" chirped a certain pink and black striped sweater from the wardrobe. "It's an ill wind that doesn't blow somebody some good, and methinks that the good will come to yours truly. I'll bet my stripes over your spots that she wears me on the weekend. Rain is forecast, yeah?"

The spotted dress began to wail into her unoverlocked raw edges as the dummy made comforting sounds before glaring at the sweater and muttering darkly about how winter clothes should learn to keep their opinions to themselves. "Particularly," she said out loud to the room in general, "if sweaters who are getting too cocky for their own good should find themselves placed on me. One snag on my rusty edges, and they'll be unravelling quicker than you can say dropped stitches!"

Not another peep was to be heard from the wardrobe after that declaration. The dress makers dummy smiled to herself. At times, being old certainly had its advantages.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Jorth was beginning to wonder if she should feel alarmed. The odd spot, she knew, was nothing to be worried about, but these were everywhere! Green fuzzy spots, blue spots, flaming red spots, wee little black spots... Thankfully thus far the spot epidemic was confined to her fabric stash, but Jorth knew it was only a matter of time before she too would be covered, absolutely enveloped in spots.

(The above is a rather convoluted way of saying that I'm making Vogue 8723 in a smashing blue and green spotted silk cotton. It's going to be one heck of a dotty summer!)


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pink and Black Striped Sweater

Jorth looked at the weather report. The forecast? Cloudy, scattered showers increasing during the day, top of 19. "YES!" she exclaimed, fist pumping the air. "It's a perfect, perfect day for my new sweater!"


I really, really enjoyed knitting this. I always like knitting stripes - something about seeing another one done spurs me on to knit more, which results in a pretty quick knit. It would have been done a heck of a lot quicker but I had to wait three months for a single ball of black yarn to come back in stock. Silly, silly me for not calculating how many balls I would need. I think from now on I'll get that extra ball, just in case!

The only alteration I made to this knit was to knit two rows of pink to each four rows of black above the big fat middle pink stripe. The pattern called for only one row of pink to be knit, but that left me with two choices: loads of pink ends to weave in, if I cut the yarn, or to use an intarsia technique to catch my pink yarn behind the work. Since my intarsia sucks (it's soooooo messy, I just can't get the hang of it) and I dreaded the thought of weaving in those millions of ends, I decided to make life easy for myself and knit two rows of pink. No ends to weave, no intarsia to worry about - why make things hard?

I am very happy with how this turned out. My love affair with crazy bright pink shows no signs of abating! I love the Sonia Rykiel feel to it. Now she's a woman who appreciates a good stripe!

I am tempted - very, very tempted - to make another one of these for next winter, but dress length! This time, though, I make sure I buy plenty of balls of yarn so I don't have to wait until winter is over before I don it. Gah!

Project Details
Pattern: Sweater #26 from Phildar Automne/Hiver magazine no. 374 (released in 2002)
Yarn: 6 x Morris Empire Superwash Merino 8 ply in Noir and 4 x Morris Empire Superwash Merino in Cha Cha Pink
Needles: 3.75mm

Monday, October 24, 2011

Striped Seaming

Striped Seaming

The two knitting archaeologists jostled for space at the dusty window. Alf, being older and stouter, won as per usual so Bob had to content himself with peppering Alf with questions as he peered into the room.

"C'mon Alf - what's she doing? Can it be true? Is she really seaming?"

Alf let out a little whistle of surprise. "Can she be seaming? My boy, not only is she seaming, but she's seaming that pink and black striped sweater she started earlier in the year. We are witnessing the completion of a Finished Object!"

Bob jiggled about excitedly behind Alf's copious back. "So the rumours are true - the black yarn she was waiting on finally did come into the store, and now she's able to finish the sweater. Geez - this is momentous!"

Alf turned to him with a broad grin. "Momentous it is, my boy. Yes, admittedly, Jorth has been true to form in waiting until summer had practically started before finishing up her winter garment, but at least she's getting it completed in the year she began it. This, dear lad, is a cause for celebration!"

Bob grinned like a schoolboy and asked "Would it be undignified to dance?"

Alf chortled. "Yes, it would be, but hang it - let's do it anyway!"

It's a pity Jorth was so intent upon her seaming, because if she had of looked outside her window at that moment she would have seen two very happy knitting archaeologists - on yet another mission to find and rescue the poor neglected knits of the world - merrily doing a jig, celebrating the fact that this knit, as least, was not doomed to spend its days unfinished and stuck in a bag, forgotten in the back of a closet.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pink skirt with ric rac detailing

I'd never actually made a skirt for the Tyger before. Pinafores, yes, but never a skirt. It seems silly to put a baby in a skirt when they are learning to crawl, as they just end up sort of crawling on the skirt instead of the ground, and before you know the skirt is off and your cute baby is hustling across the room, nappy-clad bottom exposed for all the world to see!

Then when Tyger went to kinder I still demurred on the skirt front. I didn't want her showing her smalls to all and sundry in the playground, so we generally stuck with pants and a t-shirt combos, and kept the dresses I made for her for the weekends. Then school came along, and since it ain't broke, why fix it? The combination stayed in place.

But that's not to say that Tyger didn't want a skirt. Boy oh boy, did the girl desire one. At least once a week I would be subjected to her impassioned plea - usually with hands clasped and eyes large and earnest gazing up at me imploringly : Can you pleeeeease make me a skirt? I tried to give her my reasons for not making on just quite yet: pants are warmer, you don't have to worry about undie flashing in jeans etc but she was having none of it. She wanted a skirt, and she wanted one bad!

So finally this year, as I sat writing up my sewing list for her, I decided that she was old enough for skirtdom. I think Tyger thought all her Christmases had come at once! I gave it to her after we had gotten home from school, and she immediately put it on with squeals of delight. Then she started twirling. And twirling. And then twirling some more, and it wasn't until she was in danger of concussing herself from repeated wonky twirls into the bookcase that she finally calmed down.

Then came the next question: Can you make me another one? Sheesh, kid!



Project Details
Pattern: "Velma" vintage skirt #30 from Ottobre Design Magazine 3/2009 (paired with another "Rosalind" t-shirt from the same issue)
Fabric: 1m of printed cotton from GJs Discount Fabrics
Notions: 1.8m of yellow ric rac, two buttons saved from an old cardigan that had seen better days, and 3.5cm wide elastic for the waistband.

This has ended up being such a cute skirt! I loved putting the ric rac on - both because it looks pretty darn sweet, but also because I enjoy learning new sewing tricks. The only alteration I made was to redraft the waistband, as I wanted to do an elasticised waist rather then a fitted one, as I think that would be much more comfortable for such an active child.

Even though I still have plenty of items left on her summer sewing list, I think I might be naughty and make something for myself next. Don't tell the Tyger!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Neckline binding tutorial

Neckline Binding #4

So here it is: the one, the only neckline binding tutorial for knits! I must say, I actually much prefer this style of finishing a neckline. It's much easier than doing a bias strip when it comes to knits, in my opinion, and I like the look of this so much more.

I hope you find the tutorial useful. Away we go!

1 - Stitch your shoulder seams together, and press the seams open.

2 - Take your binding strip as per the pattern you are working with, and fold it in half with wrong sides together. Press, then open it up and sew the ends together with right sides together. Press the seam open, then refold and press again if required. You now have a loop of binding.


3 - With raw edges together, pin the binding to the neckline with right sides facing. The seam in the middle of your loop of binding should be positioned at the centre back point of the neckline. Make sure that you stretch the binding around the neckline evenly. Sew with a 1cm seam allowance. Overlock the raw edge.

Neckline Binding #2

4 - Phew - the trickiest bit is over! Now press the neck line binding seam allowance flat, towards the t-shirt.

5 - Topstitch along the inside edge of the t-shirt neckline, stitching through the binding seam allowance on the wrong side.

Neckline Binding #3

And that's it - you should now have a lovely neck binding. Let me know if you have any questions - I'll answer in the comment box below. But before I go, I must say a lot of credit for this goes to Nic, who taught me how to do it in the first place. Thanks, Nic!

And don't forget - cute buttons are always an option!

Yellow Tee #2

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Ric rac and other things

Ric Rac

Today I have:
 - Popped my ric rac cherry. I can't believe it took me this long to lose my ric rac virginity. Ric rac is fun! More ric rac I say!

 - Cut out another t-shirt for the Tyger. Oh, that reminds me - leave a comment if you want me to do a neckband tutorial.

 - Discovered that the guy I buy my bread from has Alphonsus as his middle name. The weird thing was I actually guessed Alfonso. He, for some reason, thought I was called Melina. Er, not even close buddy! And don't ask why he and I were trying to guess each other's middle names when we should have been focussing on the bread transactions. What can I say - that's just how I roll! (Geddit? Bread roll? Ok, I'll give up before you all start throwing rotten internet tomatoes at me)

 - Finished a skirt for the Tyger (see pic above). Well, when I say finished I actually mean I have done everything except put in the elastic for the waistband, which I can't do until I measure her when she gets home from school.

What I haven't done today:
 - Practiced the piano. My teacher has been away for a month, and I've done scarcely any practice in that time. I am so bad. So, so bad. I can feel the piano gods frowning upon me as I type.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cool cauliflowers


I went to the local organic store today, and these were the only cauliflowers they had left. Aren't they freakishly cool looking? They're like alien cauliflowers. I'm actually quite excited to be eating these! Heirloom vegetables always make me wish for a massive veggie patch, complete with raspberry, asparagus and rhubarb beds, rather than a teeny balcony with a few herbs and tomatoes. Oh well. One day, maybe!

According to my monthly menu plan we are having a cauliflower, spinach and chickpea stir fry tonight, which will be wrapped up in mountain bread and then topped with a yoghurty tahini sauce. Not only will it be bright green and purple, but also hopefully delicious. What's everybody else having?

Monday, October 17, 2011



There are some days that will stay in my memory forever. The day I met the Galumph, for example. Or the day I gave birth to Grumbles - heck of a day, that one, but I'll treasure every memory forever. The day we moved into our very own home, and sat proudly on the steps thinking "Yes! It's ours!" Yes, those mighty fine days that bath us in sunshine every time we think of them.

There's one more day I can add to this happy list. Sunday, 16th October 2011 shall be forever be enshrined as the day I taught myself to crochet. Oh, happy day indeed!

Now, before you go and organise the marching band and ticker tap parade, I will admit that I only really know how to do chain stitch and double crochet. But still, it's a start, and more than I knew on Saturday! I'm using the excellent Kids Learn To Crochet by Lucinda Guy and Francois Hall. Hey, if it's good enough for the kids, it's good enough for me! Nah, really, it's a simple but thorough book, and the illustrations are tremendously helpful.

I must say, I'm quite excited to be walking around calling myself a crocheter. It always felt like some exclusive club I just couldn't quite get into, and I'd find myself pressing my greasy nose up against the window and looking on with admiration and longing at everybody else merrily crocheting away inside. But now I'm in the room, hook at the ready with the best of them. Hooray!
In other news, the winner of the Clutch Purse is Rie. Send me your deets, Rie, and I'll send you the clutch!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Green hope


Jorth sank down into her chair and read the news headlines with a feeling of total and utter relief. Finally, FINALLY, Australia had decided to pass a parliamentary bill to fix a price on carbon emissions. Yes, she admitted to herself, it wasn't the best plan in the world - in her opinion, there was still far too much kowtowing to big businesses and lobby groups, but it was something. It felt like an actual, concrete start in the fight against climate change. She sent up a silent prayer that where Australia had the guts to lead, other countries would follow.

Jorth was loath to admit it, but she had been despairing for the future of the Earth of late. She had been reading books by Bill McKibben and Mark Lynas, both of whom had laid out frightening scenarios of what life on Earth would be like if we passed the critical 350ppm emissions point. But after reading of these probable environmental Armageddons, she looked around her and saw people driving their kids two blocks to school, jumping on planes whenever the fancy took them and always, always conveniently forgetting the impact their actions were having on others - typically others who had less than they to start with.

Knowing that 350ppm had been passed and that current CO2 emissions were standing at 389 ppm, she looked into the scientific predictions of life on a hotter earth, and was aghast at the possibility of more ferocious storms, never ending droughts, bush fires that wouldn't burn out, rising seas claiming back lands forever - and humans fighting each other tooth and nail for every last bit of arable land to grow their food, and each last drop of clean water.

She had also began to laugh bitterly at herself for her choices. She could sense that her moral and ethical stands struck others as being old fashioned, a bit of a joke. What was the point, she thought, of riding her bike instead of owning a car, of eating a predominately vegetarian diet, of restricting flights to one every 10 years, of living in a tiny house so they wouldn't waste valuable resources when nobody else seems to give a flying damn? Her small voice calling for less material goods made by emission belching factories with a focus instead on building stronger communities was lost in the majority maelstrom of voices crying for MORE! MORE! MORE! But this bill that was passed today gave her hope once more that we could all work together, and fight for the only place we can call home. After all, it's not like we have another one to go to, is it?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

If I had a t-shirt this cute, I'd be smiling too!




I must say, old chaps, that I really like this t-shirt! Yes, it is a bit more work than a simple tee. It features sleeve cap gathers,shirring on the lower edge of the sleeves, plus the rolled hems but by jove I think it's worth it.

Although I will be honest here: I wasn't so taken with the whole hand-sew-12-buttons-on thing. The first few buttons were ok. I was thinking to myself "Hey! Buttons are fun! Bring on the buttons!"

Then I got about halfway through, and I began to think "Good gosh! How many more of these darn things are there? Ouch! Needle stab again. Gah! Tell you what, these darn buttons better be going on straight, because I am not unpicking them!"

Then on the last couple of buttons, after band-aiding my bloody finger, I began to look longingly at the fridge, wondering if it was cocktail hour yet, and feeling completely buttoned out.

Still, finally they were done. The Tyger took it, proclaimed her everlasting love for both her new t-shirt and me, and then put it on. And didn't take it off for another three days. That's love, that is.

Project Details
Pattern: 'Rosalind' T-shirt #29 from Ottobre Design Magazine 3/2009
Fabric: 60 cm of yellow cotton knit from GJs Discount Fabrics
Notions: Elastic thread for sleeve shirring, 12 assorted buttons

Monday, October 10, 2011

Clutch tutorial and giveaway!


Good morning everybody! Have you sauntered over to WhipUp yet? Well you should, because I have a nifty clutch tutorial up there as part of the guest blogging series. Hoorah! They are so quick and fun to make, and handy for when you want to fancy up an outfit.

However, if you don't feel like making one of your own, then leave a comment because I am giving away the fabulous one in the picture above. Yay! I'll leave the giveaway open until Friday, and am happy to post anywhere in the world. I've got some Vegemite I need to send to Switzerland anyway, so what's another parcel, eh?

Enjoy the tutorial, and good luck!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

A girl, a balloon and some new denim pants

Somebody had way too much fun giggling about with a balloon whilst I took these pics. Bless!

Denim Pants #1

Denim Pants #2

Denim Pants #3

Project Details
Pattern: 'Mandarine' linen pants #14 from Ottobre Design Magazine 2/2005
Fabric: 70cm lightweight denim (left over from the pinafore I made the other week) from The Fabric Store
Notions: Topstitching thread and elastic for the pockets

Good gad, have I gotten my money's worth out of this issue of Ottobre! This is the fifth pattern from that mag that I have made - many of them multiple times. I first made the Tyger a pair of these pants when she was still a wee little toddler. Sniff! How quickly the years are going by. But that's the beauty of the Ottobre patterns - they are so well designed that they never go out of style, and the multiple sizing means that if you find a keeper, you can just keep on making it.

These pants are a hit with the Tyger, and with several (grown up) people we saw yesterday, all of whom voiced the opinion that they would like a pair for themselves. They are nice and light, so they'll be good sun smart pants for when the weather really starts to get hot. The pattern called for them to be made in linen - I think I will do a linen pair for her next, but this lightweight denim works just as well.

I particularly like the elasticised tops of the pockets. So. Darn. Cute!

Monday, October 03, 2011

A brand new softie doll

Softie DollRemember when I had that terrible addiction to making Vogue 8184 dresses? Well, I think I'm completely cured - I wrote up a summer sewing list the other day, and there is not one version of that dress featured. Praise be!

The bad new is that I've filled the Vogue 8184 hole by making 60 piggies softie dolls instead. Birthday invitation comes the Tyger's way? Make a softie doll! School fete coming up? Make LOTS of softie dolls! I just can't help it - they are so cute, and gorgeous and cuddly - even if the person making them runs out of polyfill and stuffs the tummy with fabric scraps instead (ahem!)

I'm even thinking of making a Christmassy one, and using it for our angel on top of the tree. How cool will that look? Much better than putting an 8184 dress up there, ha ha! I'd best scoot and get some more polyfill then. Cute as they may be, nobody wants to look at a lumpy angel.

PS: If you'd like to make a softie doll of your own, head on over to 60 70 piggies and make use of her awesome free pattern and tutorial.

PPS I must say I was very proud of the Tyger - right after I took these pictures she wrapped up the doll without a murmur and the next day happily gave it to her friend for her birthday. I was worried for a moment or two that we might have a softie doll hostage situation on our hands, but all was well.