Wednesday, November 25, 2015

I sold a Makita cordless drill in the local paper; I got it back as a Christmas present from my brother-in-law, minus the power pack.

Hello hello! I hope that everyone is having a good week. Mine is definitely showing an improvement on last week - which, in fairness, it really needed to! Last week wasn't finished with me when I last wrote: on Sunday I heard that my great-aunt Kathleen had died. She was my maternal grandma's younger sister and I didn't know her personally, but of course my granny has taken it very hard, so that was very sad. I can only hope that's going to be the end of it for a while.

That aside, my week has been more restful so far, so that's good. I've been able to work from home and, after such a manic few weeks, this has been really good for my mental health. Today Nic was here too so we were able to go out for a walk at lunchtime and another one at the end of the working day. This evening I'm making soup and we're going to watch a film. It's a wild life, but these simple pleasures are really important to me right now. I'm going to crack on with the second sleeve of the cardigan I'm working on at the moment (a purple Agatha cardigan) and maybe even have a gin and tonic.

I have a bit of sewing to show you this evening - as I said in my last post, I have a bit of a backlog of finished sewing projects to share. This one came about after Mrs C gave me some fitting advice on a previous post - basically, if Mrs C gives me advice, I listen. After I posted the Endeavour dress, she suggested adding a few darts into the neckline to bring the shoulder straps in, as she thought they were too wide-set for me. Fast-forward to a few weeks ago. I had the evening to myself, some cheap and cute cotton to experiment with: off I went!

Crush With Eyeliner dress - By Hand London Kim dress with a pleated skirt, worn with Irregular Choice 'Windsor' shoes

If the fabric looks familiar, it's because I have sewed with it before. I made the Elaine dress from the pink colourway of this fabric last year. As with that dress, the fabric for this dress came from Goldhawk Road. I bought a two-metre remnant of it for £6 in A-Z Fabrics at the end of October, and this was more than enough for me to make this dress and self-line the bodice. Happy days!

Mrs C was right that the straps on the Kim dress were too wide-set - as well as too long - for me. I have a short torso, narrow shoulders and a short measurement between my shoulders and my bust. To work out how much I would need to take the shoulders in by, I put one of the first Kim dresses I had made on inside out and I pinned out a wedge where the neckline meets the straps on each side. As this bodice has princess seams, I then added that dart into the princess seam. It was surprisingly simple and I think it has really made a difference to the way this dress fits - no more straps sliding down!

I could probably still tinker with the fit of this bodice a bit, but I don't think that I will. Maybe on the next one, I will act on some previous advice from Mrs C and sew some cotton tape into the neckline, so that it lies flatter to my body.

The Kim pattern comes with a gathered skirt and a tulip skirt, but I am really digging pleated skirts at the moment so I added a pleated skirt to this instead. I really love the finished dress - considering it was an experiment, I think it turned out really well. I didn't make it with a specific event in mind, but once I finished it I decided to save it for wearing to see The Divine Comedy in Belfast. It was really cold in Belfast that weekend (not to mention the fact that it just would not stop raining) so I wore it with a cardigan and ankle boots, and I felt pretty great.

So, that's the craic there. Thank you, Mrs C, for the great advice!

Right now, I must go and watch this film with Nic. He's teaching Godzilla this term, so he needs to also watch some of the recent remakes. Tonight it's the Roland Emmerich film from the 90s with Matthew Broderick. Yeah. It's just as well that a) I love him and b) I have gin in the house, that's all I'm saying. We're half an hour in and it's not good.

UPDATE: No, wait. Nic says we can switch it off and watch an episode of The X-Files instead. YEAH BOI. I might still have gin though. Night!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Oh, what’s this in my shoe? Red carpet insole. Everywhere I go, I’m walking on red carpet.

Hello everyone! Well, it has been a while, hasn't it? It has been a particularly busy few weeks at work and socially. It felt like I had only been back from Glasgow a nanosecond before Nic and I were on a flight to Belfast, and after that I was in London for the best part of a week for work as it is All-Day Basement Meeting season again. This year there's been a new twist - we had one day above ground, but it wasn't much better. It was like sky prison. So, that's a thing.

In truth, it's been a weird couple of weeks. Nic and I had an amazing weekend in Belfast - we had gone back to see The Divine Comedy playing a gig, and we were joined by my parents, my best and oldest friend and her friend Mary. The weekend was wonderful - full of laughter and fun, but it was exhausting and getting home from it only to have to go straight to London was pretty hard. On Tuesday, my granny Muldoon died and on Wednesday my four-year-old nephew Eoghan broke his thigh and was taken to hospital. He'll be fine and apparently it's a relatively common injury in someone his age - there are three other little boys in his ward with the same injury - but it's still been a tough week. I was on my own in London when I heard that Granny had died and it was a very strange experience. We haven't had a relationship at all for the last eight years or so and weren't close at all before that, so it's not the case that I have lost a dear relative. But, in its own way, that's just as complicated and rubbish a situation, you know? I'm glad that I had spent the weekend previously with my dad and I'll be seeing him again in a few weeks.

So, that's what's new with me! After all of that, I took Friday off work and spent it mooching around with Nic and by sewing. I spent today sewing, too. It's been good to be back at my sewing machine and it's very soothing and healing to make things, isn't it? I have an ever-growing backlog of sewing projects to share with you, but I also have a growing backlog of knitting to blog about too! I'm going to do this slightly out-of-order though, just because.

My lovely friend Lauren has got the knitting bug in a bad way too, and she made herself an amazing red Andi Satterlund Chuck sweater recently. It's the same shade of red as my red Agatha cardigan and it's totally awesome. So, monkey see monkey do. I decided to have a crack at it myself. Not in red, though, because we'd look like twats if we were out and about in them at the same time. I wanted a green one. So, I ordered myself some Cascade 220 in Christmas green, and off I went.

Chuck sweater in progress

So, Chuck is a cropped jumper. It's seamless, knit from the top down and it is mostly in stocking stitch apart from a cabled panel down the front. I wanted to give cables a try after the failure of my Marion cardigan earlier this year, and I'm glad that I did. This jumper was so fun to knit and I really loved the cabling. 

Andi Satterlund Chuck sweater, worn with Emily and Fin dress and Hard Hearted Harlot boots

I knit the size small and made no alterations to the pattern and I am really pleased with the fit. It is pretty cropped, and I think that some people may need to add a few rows of length to it, but I have a high waist and I find it hits me exactly where I like knitwear to. 

I really love everything about this jumper and I have worn it loads since I finished it. This surprised me a little bit - I mean, obviously I thought I would like it or why else knit it, but I've never really been much of a one for wearing jumpers (outside of the house, that is, I have an amazing jumper that I wear at home when it is very cold). The fact that it is cropped makes it easy to wear over dresses and I think it is just as cute as a cardigan. 

I think that this jumper does look quite obviously hand-knit. I know that, for a lot of people, wearing something that looks obviously handmade is undesirable. I sort of feel that way about sewing, but I also feel like the rules are slightly different with knitting. Maybe they're not, and I'm only kidding myself because I am so proud of my jumper. Maybe I'll look back on this in a year's time and cringe at it. Who the fuck knows. Right now I am very happy with it. I'm wearing it right now, in fact!

Here's the back view -  I really like the way this jumper fits through the back.

As with all of Andi Satterlund's patterns, the Chuck pattern is easy to follow and it was really enjoyable to knit. You don't get time to memorise the cabling repeat because it's so large, and you only do it twice, but that's not a problem. I think I prefer lace knitting to cable knitting, but it was very satisfying to see the pattern coming together.

I've bought some gorgeous blue malabrigo worsted yarn for another Chuck but I must admit that now that I am into jumpers, I am tempted by the Aiken pattern. Yes, I know that there are other knitwear designers out there but I'm not even sorry - I love these Andi Satterlund patterns!

Anyway lads, I'm going to wrap this up here because I need to go and make the dinner and I have today's dress waiting for a hem as well. And gin - I have gin to drink! Have a lovely weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve lived in New York. It’s still fun to look up and pretend all the buildings are giant severed robot penises.

Hello everyone! What's happening? Everything is grand with me, if a little bit on the busy side. It's okay, though. I kind of like it being busy on these dark autumn days, mainly because it stops me from feeling too blue about the cold weather. I had a very busy week last week, as I was in Glasgow for work for most of it. I was at a conference, which was interesting and exhausting, and in the evenings I made sure to try to get out and see some of Glasgow, as that wasn't possible during the day. I spent Wednesday evening with my friends Hattie and Lauren, and on Thursday evening I went to a gin bar with some lovely sewing bloggers. It was a lot of fun - the bar (Gin 71) was beautiful and the company was fabulous.

Gin 71 - thank you to Amy, Nuala, Elise and Elaine for coming out to meet me and for being such wonderful company, and to Kerry for organising!

I hope to make it back to Glasgow in the not-too-distant future. There are lots more gins on that menu that I want to try, and you can't beat the friendliness of the locals. It was a really good trip and I even managed to get some knitting done on the train journey. Happy days!

So that's the craic there. It's been a great few weeks and I've finished some cracking sewing and knitting projects. I just need to get organised to blog them. So here's one of them and - surprise surprise - it's a dress!

The craic with this is that I found some more lovely Cath Kidston fabric on eBay. The design is called 'Oxford Rose', I think, and they have a dress made out of it that looks like this:

So, that's pretty nice. It's £75 though, and after getting stuck in a Cath Kidston dress the week before last, I am giving this one the side-eye. It wasn't this dress - it was a shift dress - but it was the sleeves that caught me as they were SUPER tight. It was seriously not my best moment, because I had to get the girl working behind the counter to help me out of the dress, which didn't have a zip. NO. BUENO.

Anyway, the fabric. It's beautiful. I think the print is gorgeous and the fabric is a high-quality medium-weight cotton. Also, I bought it on eBay and it was only £12 per metre. Boom. Naturally enough, I wanted to make an Emery dress with it.

Copenhagen dress - Christine Haynes Emery dress with a pleated skirt, worn with Swedish hasbeens peep-toe sandals

I bought two metres of the fabric, which is 157cm wide. I had enough to make the dress with sleeves if I wanted to, but I didn't. I did self-line the bodice though, because I think it looks really nice when you can do that. Also it made it a little bit easier to use the lace zip that I happened to have in my stash...

This is the same sort of zip as the one I sewed in my Charmed Life dress, and I got it at Berylune. I still have quite a few of them, as I bought one in every colour, so you'll probably see a few more around here before too long. 

As the fabric is reasonably weighty, I opted to pleat the skirt rather than gather it. I think it looks really elegant and although clearly I am a massive derp, I love the dress a ridiculous amount and think that it looks very mid-century stylish. Maybe I am deluded, but fuck it. I love my dress.

I have so little now to say about the Emery pattern, it's ridiculous, but I think it's the perfect pattern to show off a beautiful fabric. It does this admirably with this dress. I wore it a few weeks ago, when I had the pleasure of spending the day with Tasha and her spouse, Mel, Jane, Emmie, Karen and Marie in London. It was a really lovely day with good friends, and my dress got lots of compliments. So that was cool!

With Tasha and Jane... photo shamlessly robbed from Marie's instagram. Thanks, Marie!

By an amazing stroke of luck, my sister Kelly was also in London that day, and we managed to sneak in a few cocktails in central London before I had to take the train back up to Leamington. 

Kelly would want me to tell you that she doesn't normally look as creepy as this.

So, yeah. I do form emotional connections with my clothes and this dress has lots of happy memories already. That's always a good feeling. And I did not get stuck in this dress and that's a good feeling, too. Because Cath seriously, you have some great prints and all, but those sleeves are ridiculous. My arms are perfectly proportionate. But yeah thanks for giving the girl in the shop the chance to see me in my pants. Thanks.

Right, so thats the craic there. I'm going to head off now and do a little bit of sewing. Here's one more picture of the dress - I had to ditch today's first photo location because I was being attacked by the wind. DAMN THE WIND. DAMN ALL THE WIND.

I may be smiling, but I'm raging inside.


Monday, November 02, 2015

You're so nice to me, and I was so mean about your zookeeper dream.

Hello folks! I'm coming to you feeling a lot brighter and cheerier than in my last post. I'm not entirely sure why, but I am grateful. Maybe my brain has adjusted to the shift to autumn and the clock change.

It's been a few weeks of intense activity. I have been down to London a few times to see friends, done a fair bit of socialising in Leamington and I have even done some of whatever the autumnal equivalent of spring cleaning is. Nic and I spent the weekend before last building Ikea shelves and doing a bit of an overhaul of the furniture and storage in the flat. As a result, I have a whole set of shelves just for shoes and I have more storage for bags and accessories and stuff. Everything just looks a lot neater and prettier. Of course, it means that I have more space for more stuff and I am valiantly trying to resist the urge to BUY ALL THE SHOES. So far I'm not succeeding (I bought some ankle boots today) so it's business as usual, really.

I have been doing my best to fit sewing in around everything else, and it hasn't been the easiest as work has been pretty busy as well. However, I found myself with a free evening a few weeks ago as Nic was out at a gig. I had been working from home that day, and the beauty of this is that with no commuting time, I can just switch my computer off at the end of the work day and switch my sewing machine on. Sometimes I am even able to cut fabric out during my lunch break, although I wasn't able to on this particular day. Even so, I had a new dress by bedtime, and what's not fun about that?

The dress in question is New Look 6776, which seems to now be out of print. I made this dress because how could I not when I saw how beautiful it looked on the pattern envelope:

LOOK AT HOW SASSY SHE IS IN THAT LILAC THING. I'm generally a fan of New Look patterns - they're excellent value for money and I have never had any issues with their quality and a lot of their patterns really are very lovely. But MAN, do you have to look past the photography. I'm halfway tempted to actually frame this envelope because her face is cracking me up so much.

I think the worst thing is the sash, though, and I think that's what her face is trying to tell us. Why would you do this to someone?

Admittedly, I have a prejudice against sashes. THIS IS WHY. 

All of that said, the line drawings of this dress revealed its potential and I had the pattern in my stash. I have no memory of buying it so maybe two other New Look patterns reproduced, or I got it at a swap or something. I don't know. I was a little bit sceptical about whether this pattern would work on me because of the wide midriff - I'm still not convinced that they work on me. However, I liked the potential for playing with directional prints, so it seemed like a good match for this fabric, which I had bought in Abakhan on my birthday:

'Singin' the Blues' by Camelot Fabrics

I decided to go for view D of the dress but obviously without the sash. I also decided to wing it without sewing a toile. I didn't super love the fabric so I knew that in the unlikely event that it was a total disaster, I wouldn't be completely gutted. 

I followed the instructions and the order for construction wasn't quite as I would have expected it but it worked out well. I had to do a little bit of unpicking because of the way the bodice is constructed, but even with that it all came together really nicely.

Ball and Chain dress - New Look 6776 worn with Red or Dead shoes

There are a couple of things that I really like about this pattern. Although I am not sure about the midriff band on me, I do love the way it's cut on the bias, as it gives you an opportunity to have fun with prints. 

Here's a weird close-up of my bust and waist so you can see. I think it actually looks cooler from a bit further away, but there you go.

For view D, there is an extra pattern piece for you to cut some interfacing for the v-neck. It keeps it really nice and crisp. It sounds like such an obvious thing to do, but I've never seen it in another sewing pattern and I thought it was such a good idea! I love the skirt, which is a very pretty shape with essentially perfect pleats.

The pattern calls for a lapped zip, which I think is kind of unusual to see in sewing patterns now. I sewed a concealed zip because it's what I felt like doing. I like the way the herringbone design makes pattern matching pointless, but also effortless. Also, my god. No-one should have to see their own back. I look so fat from the back! 

I didn't make any adjustments to the pattern with the exception of sewing the shoulder straps a bit shorter to accommodate my short torso. Straps constantly sliding down is not the one. I thought I might need to shorten the bodice slightly and I did that on a subsequent iteration of this dress, but I think it might be better as it is. I've worn this dress a few times since I finished it - in fact, I wore it to work today - and I like it a lot. I think I need to tinker with the pattern a bit - it feels like there's a bit more fabric around my stomach than I would like so I might take out a bit of ease there - but on the whole I think this is a winner. I put it on and thought it really looked like a dress you might buy in Monsoon, so I think that's quite a good thing. Not that I'm a massive fan of them (and wouldn't be shopping there anyway given recent news stories) but, you know. I think it looks well-made and professional.


More sparkly shoes and I'm not even sorry. Woo-hoo!

I'm still deeply into listening to my Nashville CDs on repeat - Nic would be at the point of banning them, only I think he finds my terrible singing-along too tragic to be that cruel - and I had them cranked up loudly while I was sewing this dress. My current favourite is the duet between Rayna Jaymes and Luke Wheeler - Ball and Chain - hence the name of the dress.

I'm off to Glasgow tomorrow for a few days for work, so poor old Nic will get a bit of a break from the Nashville CDs this week! 

Anyway, that's the craic from me this evening. Nic has just come home and he's looking some attention - talk about a ball and chain (lololololololol) so I'm wheels up and out. See you later!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

I had bread. I had cheese. I had an iron. What was I supposed to do?

Hello! It's been a little while, hasn't it? To tell the truth, I have been feeling somewhat melancholy recently. Nothing major, maybe it's just the ever-decreasing daylight hours or the fact that some unsettling things are happening at work. They're unsettling for both good reasons and otherwise, but yeah. I haven't felt much like communicating, although I have been sewing and knitting. Anyway, none of this is by way of an apology, I'm sure no-one had the search and rescue out... but, also it feels a bit weird to blog after weeks and not mention the fact that it has been weeks, you know?

Despite the melancholia, life has been actually pretty good. A few nice things have happened in recent weeks, I've had some fun days out and I bought a pair of silver brogues, so that was cool too. And hey, I have a dress to show you guys this evening. It's not such a new dress now - I made this at the beginning of October to bring on holiday to Germany, and managed to get some photos of it while we were in Heidelberg. It's another McCalls 6696 because I love that pattern, but also because I bought the fabric with that dress in mind.

So, the fabric in question is some cotton that I bought in La Droguerie when Nic and I were in Paris in August. Shopping in La Droguerie was a little bit intimidating because even though I could hear other customers speaking to the shop assistants in English, I really wanted to complete the transaction in French and then I became completely tongue-tied! I managed it though, and I also managed to get away with sneaking a photo in the store, which is apparently completely forbidden. I'M SUCH A REBEL. The fabric in question is this...

In the shop, they had a shirt-dress made from this fabric and, you know, once I had seen that combination I wanted it. So I bought what was left on the bolt - which I think was about 2.5m - and I scurried away out of the shop. I think it was €18 or €20 per metre and I'm afraid it didn't have any information on the selvedge. It's of a lovely quality and the next time I'm in Paris, I will be straight back to La Droguerie to buy more of their fabric. Well, providing I can talk to the people in the shop, of course.

It took me a while to get around to making this dress, mainly because I was pissing about trying to find the perfect yellow and black buttons. I didn't find those - I should have bought them in La Droguerie - but I did end up finding some nice black ones in Leamington instead. I sewed the dress over a few nights and had a grand old time doing it too. I love M6996. It's such a satisfying pattern to sew.

Chronic Town dress - McCall's 6696 in fabric from La Droguerie, worn with Bertie 'Pixie' boots

I'm a wee bit all over the map when it comes to this dress. In theory I love it, and I am very happy with the finish and the fit. In person, I'm not sure if sewing a version with sleeves was a mistake - maybe the sleeves are a bit too much? Like most of my dresses, I think I look better in it with heels, so there's that too. I wore it with these boots in the photos because they were perfect for a day of walking miles around Heidelberg, and actually I think they do look okay with it too.

I took time cutting the fabric out to match the stripes as best I could. I forgot to get a photo of it, but they match really nicely across the back yoke and the back bodice, and I'm happy with how they match from the bodice to the skirt. I'm also pretty fond of the way in which the stripes look running horizontally across the waistband. I sewed horizontal buttonholes this time, rather than the vertical ones marked on the pattern. I gave this some thought and did a little bit of reading around it. I do think it makes a positive difference on this pattern - there is no pulling or gaping across the bust, and I think that's partly down to the buttonholes. It didn't take noticeably longer, either, although it does take a little bit longer when I'm getting dressed because I'm so used to buttonholes going in a different direction!

All in all, I'm calling this a success. I've been drawn to more graphic prints like this recently when I have been fabric shopping, so I shouldn't really find it strange to see myself in them! I'm still on the fence about the sleeves, though. I'm going to live with them through the autumn but could always take them off in the spring if they continue to bother me. 

Here's a closer look at my boots, too, for those of you who are interested in my shoes. I bought these in a random shop in Warwick at the end of August and they were a ridiculous £35. They're pretty cute but something about flat brown boots just screams middle-class mum in a White Stuff top and gilet at the school gates to me. Which, that's fine, but it's not really me. Anyway, I bought them because they're practical and I have a suspicion that we're in for a hallion of a winter. And they are cute, in fairness.

They were certainly practical. We did a lot of walking in Germany and they were a good companion throughout that. On the day we took these photos, Nic and I spent the morning at Heidelberg castle and the afternoon exploring the town. The castle was a lot of fun. It has a couple of very large wine barrels - one of which is rumoured to be the biggest one in the world. It IS pretty big, you guys.

That's me there on top of the wine barrel.

There are lots of vineyards in the area and in the castle vaults you can do local wine-tastings and you can also print up your own personalised wine labels, which was pretty cool. 

Wine tasting.

No, I'm joking. That was a prop! I loved that they put props out so that people could take stupid photos with massive wine bottles in front of the giant wine vats. That's a classy move, you have to admit.

The best thing about the castle was the amazing views across the valley and of the river Neckar. We were very lucky to see the castle in two different aspects - on the day we arrived it was shrouded in mist, and on the day we visited it was sunny and clear.

Some of the castle is in ruins and we weren't able to see much of the inside of it. The courtyard and the grounds were more than enough to keep us entertained for a few hours, and we had lunch on the terrace. It was fab.

Directly in front of this building, there are some benches set up as a photo spot. It's actually pretty cool, and we were able to see lots of people having their holiday photos taken there. I think there was also a fashion blogger getting some outfit shots taken too, which was fun to watch. From a distance, of course.

Here's me and Nic, overlooking Heidelberg old town

After spending the morning at the castle (and having lunch there) Nic and I whiled away the afternoon exploring Heidelberg. I bought gin and records, and we drank beer and ate pretzels. It was a good holiday.

So, that's the craic there. Even if I feel a bit conflicted about my finished dress, it certainly has lots of very happy memories attached to it now.

Okay now, I need to go. I am really hungry and dinner is ready. And it's finally Wednesday night, which is good, because this week is going SO SLOWLY. Ugh.

Thanks to Lauren, who sent me this gif when I made this exact same complaint to her last week.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Excuse me, Meryl Streep could play Batman and be the right choice. She is perfection.

Hello! Or, no, I'm going to say guten abend, because Nic and I are just back from a few days in Germany. We were there as Nic had been invited to give a paper at a conference in Darmstadt, and we extended our stay for a few days so that we could visit Heidelberg as well. Neither of us had been to Germany before and we had a really great time - both Darmstadt and Heidelberg were beautiful and fun, and it was a lot of fun to have a few days away from it all. When I get my act together and get the photos off the camera, I'll share some of them here - because other people's holiday photos are always so fascinating, right - but to be totally honest, most of them are variations on this theme:

Here's me with a pint of weisse bier in Schnookeloch in Heidelberg. I have never been a beer drinker but I have been expanding my palate somewhat over the last few months, and while in Germany I managed to drink my first complete pint! This was not it - sadly, I didn't manage to commemorate that momentous occasion, which happened at the Ratskellar in Darmstadt - but, eh, you get the picture. It's just as well that I learned to appreciate beer because I was certainly in the place for it, although I did manage to also drink some gin while we were there. In fact, my holiday souvenirs took the form of three bottles of German gin. I did find some fabric shops and some yarn shops too, but I was much more in the mood for buying gin. Anyway, I have a few trips to London coming up this month so I thought that would be a wiser place for fabric shopping.

So, that's the most recent craic with me. After a stressful early September, the very end of the month turned out beautifully. As I mentioned in my last post, it was my birthday at the end of the month. It fell on a Friday this year, so I took the day off work and had initially planned to go for business lunch with my friends Amy and Barney. It turned out, though, that my dad was going to be in England for the day on the Friday, so I moved business lunch to the Thursday (working at home for the win) and on the Friday Nic and I went up to Manchester with my dad and my sister Colleen. They flew into Birmingham and we met them there, and we all travelled up together. It was great fun and a real treat to be able to spend the whole day with Colleen. As it was my birthday and we were in the Northern Quarter anyway, I was encouraged to pay a visit to Abakhan, where I bought two pieces of fabric:

Abakhan in Manchester is pretty overwhelming. The ground floor is full of fabric bins, and you can buy by weight. The herringbone print piece at the top was from one of those bins, but I didn't have the time or the energy to root too much in them for anything else, so I bought the bottom piece from the back room, where they cut it from the bolt. It's a Michael Miller fabric and it was £5 per metre. Bonus! I bought a metre and a half because I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it, and I did this the very next day...

Endeavour dress - By Hand London Kim bodice with a pleated skirt, worn with Swedish hasbeens braided sandals

Ahhh. The lovely Kim bodice. I love the shape of this bodice but I am still working on getting the fit of it right. I'm short-waisted and have a short measurement between my shoulders and my bust, so I have found that the straps on the Kim bodice are very long on me. I have had to go back to a number of the iterations of this dress I have made in the last year and shorten the straps considerably, so on this dress I decided to compare the pattern piece against them and transfer this adjustment. I had a bit of a fright when I cut the fabric because the straps looked so short, but I think that they did work out to basically the correct length. I think they could stand to be a fraction longer - I wasn't as exact as I could have been, I guess - but the main thing is that they stay up!

Here's a close-up of the bodice. I didn't adjust the height of the neckline because I'm always a little bit paranoid about showing too much d├ęcolletage. It's because I'm so short - I'm always very conscious that anyone taller than me (most people, in fairness) can see right down my top! With that said, I was perhaps a little bit too conservative here and could stand to drop the neckline down a wee bit.

I'm pretty pleased with this dress - I think it gets me one step closer to achieving the correct fit on the Kim bodice. I don't love it, but I must confess that this is partly because it doesn't look nearly as cute in these photographs as it did in real life! I've made better-fitting dresses, but making this satisfied a craving for sewing and so I'm very glad that I made it. I wore this on the Sunday after my birthday to go for a pub lunch and an unplanned pub crawl with some friends, and I did feel good in it. I didn't have a lot of time to take a variety of photos - we snapped these few on our way to the pub. You'll just have to believe me when I tell you it's cuter in real life!

In any case, it was a fun dress to wear on an unexpectedly sunshiny day spent with friends. Friends who bought me gin and records...

BIRTHDAY GIN! I have some very good friends. 

Okay, now. My German gin is becoming warm as I write this and I must go and wash the henna out of my hair. My life is all glamour. Auf Wiedersehen!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Boos? Really, how gauche.

Hello my little chickens, how is everyone? I'm sitting here, drinking gin, with half an eye on the first episode of that terrible mini-series The Kennedys. You know, with Katie Holmes as Jackie Kennedy? Nic bought me the DVDs as part of my birthday present. I wouldn't usually go in for watching something just because it is bad, but this is an honourable exception. You guys, it is so bad. I love it. Katie Holmes is pretty terrible (which is a shame, because I think she's not totally untalented) but she's trying her little heart out, you know? And I have just heard that they're making a follow-up called After Camelot, which, YES.

So, after a rollercoaster few weeks, life is starting to feel a lot more positive. It was my birthday on Friday, so I have just had a long weekend of birthday celebrations and spoiling. It was pretty great, not least because I was able to spend the day of my birthday with my dad and my sister Colleen, who had come over to England for the day. Daddy had to go to Manchester for a work errand and it proved easier to fly into Birmingham and drive up to Manchester, so Nic and I joined them. We only had a few hours in Manchester but mainly what was good was being able to spend the whole day with them. We had a lot of fun and I even managed to sneak in a quick trip to Abakhan to buy some fabric.  I have been terribly spoiled all weekend by the people I love, and it's been just the tonic I needed after a difficult few weeks. Even Angry Baby got in on the action:

Photo by Angry Baby's caretaker, Amy

Thanks, Angry Baby! I did some sewing on Thursday afternoon and some on Saturday, and I cut out a dress today to try to sew in the next few days. It feels good to have the time and the mental energy to want to sew, you know?

This post tonight isn't about sewing though. It's about knitting! While I was knitting my Audrey in Unst cardigans, I realised that I had been incorrectly knitting into stitches that had been formed with a yarn over, and that this was why the holes in my lace stitches didn't look as good as I would like. It was a bit of a lightbulb moment, and also a moment of feeling profoundly daft - but then, this is one of the downsides of teaching yourself. Anyway, armed with this knowledge, I decided to have another  go at knitting Andi Satterlund's Agatha cardigan. I was inspired by my friend Lauren, who is currently knitting a Chuck sweater in a lovely deep red yarn - Cascade 220 superwash in 'really red' - which is a great, blueish red shade.

I had knit my yellow Agatha in size medium, but it was too big across the shoulders, so this time around I decided to knit the size small. I was also knitting in a DK rather than aran weight yarn, so I used a smaller size needle to get gauge. Apart from that, I knitted this cardigan exactly to the pattern:

Andi Satterlund Agatha cardigan, Ruby Belle Owl dress and Irregular Choice No Place Like Home shoes

I think choosing the smaller size was a good idea for me personally, as I like my cardigans to hit my natural waist and to be pretty fitted. So I'm very happy with the fit of this cardigan, although I wish I had used a slightly stretchier cast-off for the waist ribbing than I did. I chose not to, because I wasn't sure I'd like how it looked, but then I did use a stretchy method for the cuffs and it looks fine. Ah well, live and learn, and this certainly won't be the last Agatha cardigan I knit.

Here it is, close up! Annoyingly, there's a little bobble of fluff at the waist that I didn't notice before we took the photos. Ah well. You can see the button band pulling at the bottom button, and I think that this would be less of an issue with a more flexible cast off there. But you can also see how lovely the lace design is! Hey, and check out the back...

I'm very happy with the fit through the back, although part of me wishes I had knit the last central repeat fully before moving onto the ribbing. I followed the pattern, and maybe if I had knitted a few rows more I'd be crabbing that I should have knitted it a few rows shorter! This is the thing I am finding with knitting - it is a lot of trial and error. 

And here's how it looks unbuttoned! I have worn this cardigan a fair bit since I finished it - it's been nice, actually, because this brief indian summer we have been enjoying has meant that a thicker cardigan is the perfect layer without a coat. These photos were taken on Thursday, when I was working from home and going out for lunch with some friends. The dress is a shop-bought - or rather, ebay-bought dress from a number of years ago. I try not to feel guilty when I buy dresses in shops or even when I wear the small number of shop-bought dresses that I still have in my wardrobe, and the guilt is definitely assuaged when I am able to wear them with hand-knit cardigans!

I still feel that I have a long way to go with knitting, and that I really am learning something new with each project. That's satisfying and exciting and it means that I can take a lot of joy out of completing something even when it is far from perfect. You can't say fairer than that, really. I have cast on my next project, which is a navy Hetty cardigan. My thinking there is that my newly improved lace knitting skills will work well with the all-over lace pattern on Hetty. So watch this space for that!

Anyway, time to dander on here and do Sunday night up in style with another gin and tonic and maybe something slightly more edifying on the TV than that Kennedys thing. Goodnight!