Thursday, August 29, 2013

Pattern review: Josephine Dress by Violet Field Threads

Do you ever make a project, and stop and look at it half-way through, and begin to wonder if it's really going to turn out as well as you hope it will? That, dear readers, was what happened during the making of this, the Josephine dress. As the sewing on this progressed, I kept the dress on a coat hanger in my room, and every time I glanced upon it I began to be assailed by the fear that Tyger wouldn't end up with a cute dress, but something oddly resembling a 1950's housecoat, which needless to say, wasn't quite the look I was going for!

It just seemed so large. And frumpy. And housecoatey. Thankfully, with the help of some grosgrain ribbon working as a belt, it turned out AWESOME!

Josephine #1

Josephine #2

Josephine #3

Admittedly, it is a little on the big side, but the ribbon helps cinch it in. And it looks pretty darn cute on Tyger, who got loads of compliments on it when she wore it on the weekend. Phew! Sewing failure averted!

Now down to the pattern nitty gritty. As you can probably tell, the pattern runs a little on the large size. That's fine for us, as it means Tyger can wear it again next winter, but if you were making it for a special occasion and wanted the perfect fit right here, right now, then you might want to go down a size and add length as required.

It was a fairly easy pattern to put together, but one thing that slightly bugged me was the fact that the pintucks were not marked on the pattern. Instead, after attaching the ruffled button band, you had to measure and manually work out the pintuck placement for yourself. I'd prefer it to be marked on the pattern itself, as is usually the case.

The other quibble I have is that a pattern piece for the button band ruffles is not included, so unless you carefully read through the entire pattern before cutting out, you might not realise that you needed to measure and then cut out the two pieces yourself. Considering that the pieces required for the larger dress size come in at 43 inches, you'd hate to not have enough fabric, or have gotten rid of your fabric scraps like I almost did.

So my verdict is: cute pattern, but read through the entire instructions carefully before embarking!

Project Details
Pattern: Josephine Dress by Violet Field Threads, size 9-10
Fabric: 1.5m of Raindrops Poppies Platinum from the Field Study collection by Anna Maria Horner
Notions: 15 buttons, 1.5m black grosgrain ribbon, matching grey bias binding

Monday, August 26, 2013

I got myself a Chevy

Is it bad that, when you first hear the news that a family member is going to have a baby, your second thought (heartfelt congratulations being the first, of course) is that it means you can begin a brand new knitting project?

Purl Soho Blanket #1

Case in point: scrummy yarn purchased from Purl Soho so I can make this rather snazzy garter stitch chevron baby blanket. I may have squealed with excitement when receiving the package from the post lady. It's so squooshy!

But fear not, dear readers. I shall dutifully put this delectable, gorgeous, so soft and lovely yarn aside until all other projects are finished. Did I mention how soft it is? Oh, who am I kidding - I started already!

Purl Soho Blanket #2

Well, I couldn't risk that wee little baby getting cold now, could I? Even if it isn't due for, oh, another four months...

Friday, August 23, 2013

Say hello to spots!


"I'm free!" squealed the spotted fabric with obvious relief. "Free from the confines of the cupboard. Seriously, I thought I would never get out. Four years I've been trapped in there, lying neglected in the fabric stash, watching wistfully as other fabrics came and went. But now my moment of glory has come. No longer shall I have to remain hidden away, wishing that I, too, was being made into a summer dress. I shall shine in the sun with the best of them!

"Just between you and me, I was beginning to fear for my sanity, being stuck in there all that time. Had she forgotten about me? Was I not good enough? Truly, folks - I was beginning to get a bit, well, dotty!"

"But you are..." began a brocade, confused by the lack of self-identity shown by the fabric when Sabrina the dressmakers dummy shushed her. "Let it go, ducks. Just.Let.It.Go."

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Monthly menu plan - August/September


We're already in the tail-end of August? And it's nearly September? Once again the year is slipping by. Soon it will be summer, and all I'll want to eat is cool tomatoes and juicy mangos, but there's still a few chilly days left yet until that happens. So - to the plan: I've snuck in a few wintry favourites. Got to enjoy them while I can still can!

Week One:
Monday - Chilli tofu and vegetable stir fry on brown rice
Tuesday - Thai red lentil and pumpkin soup
Wednesday - Zucchini and lemon pasta with big fat garden salad
Thursday - Tomato and capsicum soup with Irish soda bread, slathered in fresh butter
Friday - Lentil and chickpea burgers with red cabbage coleslaw
Saturday - Roast pork with vegetables, followed by pannacotta with berry coulis
Sunday - Pea soup with salad baguettes

Week Two:
Monday - Potato and pea samosas with garden salad
Tuesday - Beef and beer stew with garlicky mashed potatoes
Wednesday - Leek and ricotta tart with green salad
Thursday - Spicy cauliflower, lentil and bean pilaf with minted yoghurt
Friday - Pizza night! Probably roast potato, and capsicum and mushroom with rocket
Saturday - Vegetarian shepherd's pie with parmesan beans on the side
Sunday - Roast chicken with lots of vegetables

Week Three:
Monday - Chicken and tofu laksa (using left over roast chicken)
Tuesday - Farro risotto with roasted pumpkin and spinach
Wednesday - Chunky minestrone with garlic bread
Thursday - Pappardelle with cavolo nero and side salad
Friday - Beef and lentil burgers
Saturday - Individual asparagus lasagnes with garden salad
Sunday - Bangers and bean stew with roasted vegetable couscous

Week Four:
Monday - Spicy bean burritos with salsa and guacamole
Tuesday - Spinach and ricotta cannelloni with chunky tomato and lentil sauce
Wednesday - Dhal with mango lassis
Thursday - Curried cauliflower soup with olive cornbread
Friday - Home made fish and chips with salads
Saturday - Ratatouille pies with salad

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

That's why they call it a shirtdress

You know your child is growing FAST when your husband comes home and when his eyes alight upon the latest thing you are making for her he comments "Cool - you're making yourself a shirt!"

Er, no. That would be a dress for Tyger. Who will no doubt be wearing all of mine, soon enough!

Josephine #2

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Cabled red capelet

Finally, finally, finally finished! I tells you what, peoples, this capelet was an exercise in cables. And then some. I was trucking along pretty well, but then fell over on the yoke, which was full of short rows. No matter how much I knitted, the darn yoke never seemed to grow. But I sucked it up and got there in the end. A lesson in cables AND patience. Whoo!

As you can probably tell from the pics, Tyger is rather chuffed with it. It may not have gotten finished for her birthday (what was I thinking?!? Good grief!) but it's done for her Book Week parade tomorrow, and since she's going as Anne of Green Gables again, she's thrilled.

Capelet #1

Capelet #2

Capelet #3

Project Details
Pattern: Sirdar 1386 - Hooded Cape and Cape
Yarn: 6 balls of Woolganics Organic Merino DK in Chili Pepper (from stash - YES!!!)
Needles: 3.25 circular needle, 4mm circular needle, 3.25mm straight needle, 4mm straight needle

Loved working again with this yarn - I had used it previously for Tyger's red dress. Plus it's always nice to use up a bit of the stash. Makes room for more yarn (Galumph, I hope you didn't read that. Ahem!)

The only thing I don't like is that I cast off my front ribs a little bit too loosely. I might unravel those and redo them a bit tighter. Apart from that I'm happy with how this has turned out. And Tyger informs me it's lovely and warm and snuggly to wear. Win win all around!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Crafting and sanity

Cutting Table

There are a few things that are vital to keep my mental health in a happy, balanced state. Enough sleep, a walk every day in the fresh air no matter what the weather is, not watching television with it's blaring exhortations to buy more and more because you are not good enough as you are, and regularly servings of good wholesome food.

So far, so typical. But to that list I might add a regular dose of making. I seriously think that I would be a far grumpier person without the lift that crafting gives me. Even if I don't get my hands involved in cutting something out, or winding yarn through my fingers, just the thinking - the planning, the dreaming - is often enough to lift me out of any doldrums. Heck, you can make me happy just by insisting I peruse vintage patterns on Etsy for a while!

I'm not sure if it's the pretty colours of the fabric and yarn, or the quiet focus on a solitary activity, or the visualisation of a finished project, or the satisfied buzz of achievement when something is finally completed, but crafting can often fill a hole for me that nothing else can.

I'm so lucky to be able to make. Good times will come and go, and every life will have it's fair share of sorrow and suffering, but it comforts me to know that I'll always have a pair of knitting needles and a sewing machine to hand to give me relief when it all feels like too much to bear.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Grey leaves part two

Ach! I couldn't help myself. The siren call of making the Flora layered leaf skirt was too much for this knitter to resist! Despite the previous unravelling, despite the faulty pattern, despite the fact that winter is almost over and I really should be thinking about summer knits I am determined to conquer this thing. I will own it! Well, technically, Tyger will own the actual skirt, but I will own the knitting, dammit!

Grey Leaves

And besides, knitted leaves are fun! Oh dear, it's official - you truly are old when you prefer to stay home to knit leaves for crying out loud than go out and get sweaty on a dance floor. Gulp!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Red knits

Aha! All this time people thought pink - in particular that hot fuchsia pink - was my favourite colour, but let me tell you this: I have been a red girl for longer than I care to remember. I like my bikes to be red, my toenails to be painted red, my necklaces to be red. And, judging by the below, my handknits!

If anybody wants me, I'll be hanging out somewhere between orange-red and magenta on the colour wheel. Or maybe button shopping. These beauties need the perfect buttons, stat!

(And yes, have already checked Nan's button bag. Alas, no luck. I really will have to go button shopping. Oh, how ghastly!)

Red Knit #1

Red Knit #2

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

C is for...


...cables! And weird knitted C shapes. And crap, I have to seam all of that long edge. Cursed crafting chores!

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Pattern review: Vogue 1314

What with the knitting, and trying to make most of Tyger's clothes, and beavering away at Handmaker's Factory, I haven't had much of a chance to make things for myself this winter, especially at the sewing machine. But I did sneak in this dress last week. May I present my version of Vogue 1314:

Blue Leopard

As soon as I saw this pattern I said to myself "Jorthy, old girl, this has your name written all over it!" It was really easy to make - just like a giant t-shirt, but with some gathers. And speaking of gathers, I cheated and did it my way, rather than how the pattern instructed me to, by using elastic on the side seams. Eeeeeeasy!

The only thing I don't like about this dress is how stretchy the fabric is. I used a viscose knit, which is quite thin, and as a result my gathers tend to sag a bit. I really should have made the next size down to prevent this, but it was one of those things that you don't realise until you have finished and tried the darn dress on. Judging by what a few other bloggers have said, the fit on this dress tends to err on the generous size. If only I'd researched before I'd sewn. Gah!

I also didn't line my dress. Shhh! Don't tell anybody! Even though the fabric is thin, it's not sheer, so I decided not to bother. I also did a t-shirt style neckline binding, just cause I could. What a rebel I am!

Apart from that it's super comfy, easy to wear and hey - I've always wanted an animal print dress! Roar!

Project Details
Pattern: Vogue 1314, size 8
Fabric: 2m of viscose print from The Fabric Store
Notions: 1cm wide elastic

Monday, August 05, 2013

Wrapping up for winter

The head of the Committee For Ensuring Winter Sewing Projects Are Completed peered over his half-moon glasses at Jorth, and asked in his stenorous voice "Are you completely and utterly certain that you will get all of the planned sewing and knitting projects for your daughter completed by the end of winter, namely one more dress, the finishing of the cabled shawl and the Sea Princess cardigan?"

Jorth thought of the lovely fabric she had picked out for the Josephine dress, and felt the itch in her fingers to get started on the project. She was also dying to begin knitting the cardigan, and that shawl was so close to finished that she wasn't even worried about it anymore. So standing tall she looked the committee head straight in the eye and declared that yes - all projects would be done by winter's end.

"Fine!", sighed the committee head. "26 days and counting. You'd better hop to it, young lady!"


So that's my challenge - sort out those pesky winter projects and have a clean slate for summer. I've got dresses planned - lots and lots of loverly dresses! Bring on the sunshine!

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Lessons in biscuit economy

Chocolate crackle biscuits

Even though our family budget might currently be tighter than a coffin nail I always find that life is far more bearable if the biscuit tin is full.

It's also far more economical to have those treats awaiting in their tin of blue. Truly - it only costs a few dollars to make a batch of biscuits, but it can save HEAPS! For example:

Friends want to go out for lunch? Invite them around to eat your biscuits instead!

Saw that dress you love in the window of the shop where the price tags usually have at least three zeros on the end? Keep the money in your wallet and come home and eat biscuits instead!

Ran out of bread for toast in the morning? Thank heavens you've got those biscuits! (Try not to do that one on purpose)

Yup, life is better and cheaper with biscuits. Especially these double chocolate crackle cookies, from the Meat Free Monday cookbook. They're so good that you'll never want to go anywhere and spend money when you can stay in and eat these instead!