Wednesday, March 15, 2017

I'm clown realness.

Hello! So... my resolution to blog more often has totally fallen by the wayside, hasn't it? I can't apologise for it really either... it doesn't matter all that much. It's the way it as at the moment. I've been doing two jobs since Christmas (my job and my old job) and it is NO. JOKE. Also, more seriously, I've been struggling pretty intensely with anxiety. It's been exacerbated by work and my own over-achieveing tendencies although not caused by it - it's largely because of the state of the world at the moment. I have a very happy personal life and a happy professional life too, despite the issues, but I've still been spending most of the time feeling anxious, angry and sad. I know that it's this way for a lot of people right now, and indeed worse. I have people around me who can help me and I'll be okay. But, yes. The effect has been that blogging has felt impossible. I know this is basically what I've said in my last few blog posts: I'm like a stuck record! It doesn't make it less true, though.

Lots of things help. I bought a chocolate panettone yesterday in TK Maxx (you can't tell me I'm the only person who can't resist the random food section) and it's going to become chocolate bread and butter pudding at the weekend. We've switched off the storage heaters, opened the windows and filled the flat with daffodils, which makes it feel like spring. I've packed away my winter clothes and the opaque tights are going away this weekend too. IT MIGHT SNOW AGAIN. I might have cold toes. It's a risk I'm willing to take.

Of course, when time allows, I have been sewing. My manager sews - she's a quilter - and she reminded me during my annual appraisal yesterday that sewing is good for me and that I must make time for it. She is awesome, and she is right! So here's a dress I made a few weeks ago.

It's a shirt-dress, because that always seems like a good thing to make and wear in spring. It has anchors on it because... well, we've met. It has anchors on it because I can't help myself.

Although I've made a few McCall's 6696 dresses and a few Sew Over It vintage shirt-dresses, I wanted to try a different pattern. I was attracted to Butterick B6333 because it had the elements of M6696 that I liked: a stand collar, a pleated skirt and a separate button band but, unlike M6696, it has princess seams, a more fitted back and no waistband.


I mean look, it also has a goofy waist tie... but, let's remember New Look 6776 and its crimes against waist ties and cut this little pattern a break, hey? BECAUSE I MEAN:

I literally love this girl's face so much I can't handle it. THAT PURPLE BOW. 

Yeah that waist tie doesn't look so bad now, does it? So anyway. I digress. This Butterick shirt pattern. I made a toile of the size 10 and decided that I needed to make a couple of changes. I needed to shorten the bodice and I needed to ditch the sleeves and the pattern's collar. The collar was HUUUUUUUGE. I mean, comically huge. 

Me checking myself out in the mirror 

I don't know what to tell you. The collar looks normal enough on the pattern envelope and the pieces aren't weird-looking... it just really didn't work on me. My mum did tell me once that I have no neck, so maybe it was that? Anyway, I solved it by deciding to use the collar pieces from M6696, which were less hilariously awful on me. Away I went...

Alicia dress - Butterick B6333 in Robert Kaufman anchor chambray, worn with Swedish Hasbeens lacy sandals

The fabric is Robert Kaufman anchor chambray. I do already have an anchor-print chambray dress, why yes I do. It's the Larry Vaughn dress, and it is awesome. This is a different dress though. It's a very different dress. It's a different shark! I bought the fabric from the Fabric Godmother, and I think the buttons came from the rag market in Birmingham. 


I'm pretty happy with the finished dress. It's almost exactly what I had in mind for this fabric - the fit is quite relaxed because there's quite a lot of ease, so it'll be lovely and cool and comfortable in the summer. Usually my preference is for a more fitted style, but something more relaxed works with this fabric. It's something I find it a bit difficult to get used to, though - I look at myself in the photos and think I look really boxy and blah, but actually the dress feels great to wear. If I didn't blog, I'd probably never think twice about it.

I like the pattern a lot. I think the style lines are really cute - the princess seams for front and back meet at the shoulder seams, which is a cute touch. The fit through the back is pretty good, although I could probably benefit from a slight swayback adjustment. I like it much better than the back of M6696, which makes me feel a bit like Jerry Seinfeld.


I mean, look... it isn't perfect. But it's not this:

But I don't want to be a pirate!

Unlike M6696, the sleeves on this pattern didn't work on me at all. Actually, they weren't dissimilar to Jerry's sleeves above. You can see why from my sleeveless version, actually - it's wide across the shoulders (and there aren't separate stitching or cutting lines for sleeves/no sleeves... at least, not that I could see) so the sleeve heads started at approximately my elbows. I would need to do some redrafting if I wanted to add sleeves but, eh. Ain't nobody got time for that. Ot at least, I'm not so committed to the thought of sleeves that I'm going to spend my time messing around with them. Call me lazy if you want. I don't care.

I've since gone on to use this bodice, with some modifications, to make two other shirt-dresses. I don't have proper blog photos but here's one from instagram (although this dress will hopefully get a post of its own pretty soon). I used a half-circle skirt and it's pretty damn kitsch. I love it.

I'M COVERED IN BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSS

Despite the similarities between M6696 and B6333, it was worth it (for me) to buy both patterns. B6333 has already earned its keep! I have visions of lengthening the pleated skirt for a dramatic maxi dress, possibly in a rayon or a lawn. I'll just have to find the right fabric. And being real, I'm probably going to make a couple more circle skirt ones because I wore the bee one on Saturday and I felt sassy as fuck in it all day long. I really need that in my life right now.

Well anyway, that's the craic with me. I won't make promises about when I'll be back, but I am working hard at feeling better and feeling more like myself, so hopefully it won't be long. Looking at gifs of Bianca Del Rio are helping me at the moment, so I'm going to leave you with one of those. Goodnight bitches!


Monday, February 13, 2017

I’m pretty and tough, like a diamond. Or beef jerky in a ball gown.


Hello hello helloooooo! It's been a while: this getting back into blogging craic fell by the wayside a bit as January swallowed me whole. But it's February now and although it's still pretty brutally cold, I can see some signs of spring and I'm getting a little bit of breathing space again, so that's good. I found January to be a real struggle - I was exhausted all the time and my anxiety was playing me really badly, so it's a relief to finally be through it.

Anyway, sorry to moan. In amongst all of the harder things, life has still been good. I've been making time for sewing when I can - although, it's difficult to find the motivation to sew when it's cold as my sewing table is in front of a window and it's freezing there! Motivation came a few weeks ago when Alice from Fabric Yard got in touch with me and offered to send me my choice of fabric to make a dress with. I've shopped with Fabric Yard a fair bit - I enjoy dealing with a Northern Irish business, they do flat rate postage of £1 and, best of all, have a really great selection of fun fabrics. I took the opportunity to get some fabric I'd had my eye on for ages - an Michael Miller print called Atomic.

Michael Miller Atomic in turquoise*

I've actually sewed from this fabric before, although not for myself - ages ago, I made my lovely friend Lucy a B5748 from the olive colourway. She loved it and still wears it, which is a wonderful compliment. It is worth sewing for other people sometimes. Well, only sometimes.

With Lucy's dress in mind, and also partly inspired by an amazing dress that Camille made during Sew Dolly Clackett, I hatched a plan...

A Fine Romance dress - Christine Haynes Emery dress bodice with a half circle skirt, worn with Poetic Licence 'The Right Stuff' shoes

Alice sent me three metres of the fabric, which was enough to do pretty much anything I wanted with it. I had enough for a full circle skirt but recently I've been really digging how half circle skirts look, so that's what I did. The bodice is my trusty Emery bodice. I've experimented with shortening it by about half an inch. This has meant it fits a bit better at the bust, but I do need to do something about the shoulders, which now gape a bit at the neckline:


HELLO BRA STRAPS. Now to be fair, this is exacerbated a little bit by my unnatural stance - it's not nearly so evident when I'm standing a bit more normally. I should probably do a slight FBA, which  might put everything where it should be. I'll do that. Definitely.


I am pretty happy with this dress, even with the slight fitting issues. The fabric is fabulous, and I love the colour. I don't love these photos - I think the proportions of the dress are such that it will look better with higher heels. I'm really looking forward to wearing it with some orange high heeled clogs once the weather allows.


I think the colour of the dress will also look better on me when winter is over and my skin isn't literally blue any more. That will help. Can you tell that I'm pretty much over winter by now?


Okay, I'll try to stop crabbing about it being cold because it's not even all that cold really. We've had a few hours of pitifully sleety snow this past weekend and that's been it in terms of extreme weather. I shouldn't really complain. It's a nice excuse to cuddle up in my slanket** and binge-watch RuPaul's Drag Race.


Anyway, that's your lot for this evening. Goodbye!


*I was sent the fabric for free but wasn't otherwise compensated for this blog post, and the links are not affiliate links

** I don't have a slanket, sadly. I might have to get one now though.

Monday, January 23, 2017

I don't think I've ever been to an appointment in my life where I wanted the other guy to show up.

Evening everyone! You know, it's hard to know how to start blog posts these days because there is so much shitty stuff going on in the world that being all, "Hey, take a look at my dresses and shoes and stuff" seems almost too frivolous for words. It's been stopping me from blogging, to be honest, because it doesn't feel right. But stopping myself from doing things that make me feel good is no answer either, so here I am, because blogging is one of the things that makes me feel good.

It's been a rum few days, but good things have been happening too. On Friday, Nic got an email to say that a funding bid he had submitted for a major research project had been successful. This is really exciting for him and it was really good to get some positive news on an otherwise hard day. I'm really proud of him, because this sort of funding isn't easy to secure and the project is something he feels excited about. We celebrated with champagne and pizza, because that's how we roll, and it was a good end to what had otherwise been a pretty challenging week.

The sun came out on Saturday, which was lovely after a week of freezing fog, and I had a very restful weekend. It is very cold at the moment. I'm telling you this in an effort to avoid getting the inevitable "But aren't you cold?" questions at the bottom of this blog post. It is cold. It's too cold to wear the dress I'm going to blog tonight, for sure. It's going to have to wait until spring now, probably. But, we had one very unseasonably mild day a few weeks ago and I wore it then. But yeah, it is out of season and I am aware of that. Don't worry. I have many coats and I bought another pair of cute warm boots at the weekend. But here is a spring dress all the same:

Six Napoleons dress - New Look 6020 with a gathered skirt in Michael Miller 'Paris Ville' fabrc, worn with Swedish hasbeens Mimmi sandals

Aww yes. Michael Miller 'Paris Ville'. This is one of my all-time favourite prints and I made a dress from it in 2013 that was a knock-off of a Bernie Dexter dress I loved but didn't want to pay £120 for:

Here's me in the 2013 dress. I had to get photos of it indoors because there was snow on the ground. I never wore it with the beret. Full disclosure, too. I haven't read La Bete Humaine in French, either, although I have read it in English because Zola is the best. 

You can read the original blog post here. The pattern I used was New Look 6886 and I loved loved LOVED the dress. It's too big now and the fabric has faded. I wore it once last year and decided that it couldn't be part of my wearable wardrobe any more and that it needed to be archived - which is to say, I've packed it away and will keep it for sentimental reasons. I didn't think of it again until one day when I just took a notion that I wanted that print back, so I ordered myself some more of the fabric and made a seasonally-inappropriate replacement. What's the point of being able to sew if it's not to make exactly what you feel like, eh?

I couldn't find my copy of NL6886 but, to be honest, the little spaghetti straps were not the one. As I had made myself another Bernie Dexter-ish dress from NL6020 - the Prospect Park dress - I thought it would be a likely candidate. And it was!

Here I am wearing the dress with an Andi Satterlund Miette cardigan that I knit with some Malabrigo worsted yarn - I'm not sure I ever blogged this, but I knit it sometime last year.

I sewed this dress just after Christmas and I had a lovely little afternoon to myself. Nic was watching an old Douglas Wilmer Sherlock Holmes episode - The Six Napoleons - hence the name. As with the other versions of NL6020 that I've made, I mixed up some of the pattern details. The front bodice is from view D and the back bodice is from views A and B (it has a v-back, which I didn't get a photo of) and I moved the zip from the side to the centre back. I did this by not cutting the centre piece from the back bodice on the fold, instead adding a seam allowance to it. I sewed the seam allowances at 5/8 (rather than the 3/8 the pattern calls for) except for the side seams, which I sewed at an inch.


I'm really pleased with how the dress fits, and with my pattern matching along the princess seams - this is something I'd never attempted before. Not that it's difficult, but I'm still pleased by it!

The wider straps of this dress make it more wearable than the original - the straps on that were narrow and wide-set, so I mainly had to wear it with a strapless. Even despite that, it was so well-loved that I know this one will be too. I'm glad to have it back. I just need to make it through to spring! A trip to Paris is a possibility for later in the year, and you can bet your bum I'll be bringing this with me if we do go. I'm that kind of girl and I don't even care.


So look, that's the craic with me. I'm not ready to talk about the world yet, but I'm glad I came and spent some time talking about pretty dresses. Now it's time for me to mosey on, though. Nic and I have been watching The Jinx so I'm going to go and have an episode of that. Until next time, mes amies!

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

I'm agorophobic. I can't even watch Groundforce.

Hola! A slightly belated happy new year, everyone! I hope you saw in the new year in the style that suited you best. Nic and I had a really lovely, relaxing break. On the 30th, we went to London as Nic had booked us a night in a nice hotel as a treat. We spent the Friday afternoon pottering around Kensington and Chelsea, which was very atmospheric in the heavy mist. On the Saturday, we started the day with a champagne brunch at Caravan before heading east to the Barbican to spend a few hours looking at the art of the vulgar.

It was as good a way as any to wave goodbye to 2016 which, like many of us, I was only too glad to do. Lots of good things happened for us in 2016 - I was promoted, Nic's book was published, we had lots of lovely trips and holidays and I gained another beautiful nephew. But it was also a hard and sad year in many ways - personal, as well as global. Like many of us, I am afraid of what 2017 has in store. I'm more angry about things than I have ever been. All I can do is to try to use that anger in a positive way, in both small ways and large.

That's about as reflective as I'm apt to get here at the moment. I have goals for 2017 but none that I especially want to share. None of them are sewing-related - but, then, this is something that has worked well for me in the past. I like sewing what I like to sew and, because I sew what I like to wear, I end up wearing it. It's pretty simple.

And, speaking of simple, here is something that I sewed recently. New Year's Day was cold and rainy but I was un-hung-over and spent the day sewing. It was a good start to the year. I finally cut into some fabric that I've been hoarding since last March - some gorgeous Cloud 9 poplin that Colette sent to me:

The print is called 'Bouquet' and the designer is Sarah Watts, in case you'd like to try to find any. Colette sent me loads of this - I think four metres - so I had lots of play with. As I wanted to make the most of the fairly large-scale print, I thought something with a circle skirt would be the way to go, so I decided to sew another Retro Butterick B5748:

Case Histories dress - Butterick B5748 in 'Bouquet' poplin from Cloud 9 fabrics, worn with Poetic Licence 'Backlash' boots

Clearly so pleased with myself/cold that I had to have my eyes closed in that photo, oh well. I've made this dress many times before so there's very little to say. This time, though, I was inspired by Amy to finally try a version with a notched neckline. 


There's not even too much to say about that - it was about as simple as it looks. I quite like it, as it breaks up the very busy print next to my face but I think it's also kind of a shame to break the print up there. In any case, I think it's a very pretty detail.


The only other change I made was to lengthen the skirt slightly, because I had enough fabric to do so. I used some bias tape to face the hem which, combined with the slightly heavier fabric, gives the skirt  some body. I'm not wearing a petticoat in these photos, although I suspect it would look pretty dramatic and fun with one underneath. It would have kept me a bit warmer, as well! I wore it like this - with shoe-boots and a hand-knit cardigan (it's the Miette, by Andi Satterlund) - to meet some friends for drinks on Bank Holiday Monday, but I'm looking forward to wearing it in the warmer weather with my yellow clogs. Or pink ones, or blue ones, or purple ones. I have lots of choices because I have lots of clogs!

So that's the craic there. It was good to finally use this fabric because it is so pretty and I love the finished dress, and also because I needed to make room in my stash box for some Vlisco fabric I bought just before Christmas:


I haven't decided what I'm doing with it yet. Something fun, I hope.

So that's my lot for the evening. I'm going to leave you here and go and maybe have a gin and tonic. Goodnight!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Some of the happiest moments of my life have been at Waitrose. I was recently asked where I would like my ashes to be scattered. I couldn't think of anywhere other than Waitrose.


(Return of the Mack) Come on
(Return of the Mack) Oh my God!
(You know that I'll be back) Here I am
(Return of the Mack) Once again
(Return of the Mack) Top of the world!
(Return of the Mack) Watch my flow
(You know that I'll be back) Here I go

Hi guys! So, ah, it's been a little while, right? It's okay though because, like my man Mark Morrison there, I'M BACK TO RUN THE SHOW. I took an unintentional blogging break for a month or so - not that long in the scheme of things, and I'm sure not long enough for anyone to have been sending out the search parties or anything, like, but it's been the longest that I haven't blogged since I first started writing here in 2009. 

Nothing's wrong. Well, EVERYTHING is wrong... I mean, look at the fucking world right now. Nothing is wrong with me, though. Between one thing and another, I just haven't been feeling it. It's partly because the world has been so dark and scary that blogging dresses and Made In Chelsea gifs just didn't feel right. It's partly that life has been busier and harder over the last few months than it has been in a fair while. Not bad, you know, just...hard. Grown-up. Work stuff, family stuff. You know the drill. It's things that we all have to deal with at various points in our lives. Anyway, it's the Christmas holidays now and the pace has slowed down a bit, so it felt like time to check in. Also I can show you a few things that I've made and not blogged because it didn't seem like they warranted their own blog posts.

Here's one of them...

Stella dress - Vogue V8998 bodice and pleated skirt

It's another V8998 in that gorgeous starry wax cotton. I've made two of these before - the original Bedelia dress, which is now too big, and the Diva Lady dress. I made this dress in October, on a weekend when Nic was away in Guildford at a conference. I was having a stressful time and didn't make things any better for myself by spending pretty much the whole weekend holed up in my flat sewing and watching all of Black Mirror and The Fall. Yeah that shit will fuck with your head pretty comprehensively. Stella, though.

#QUEEN

Anyway, so there really wasn't anything to say about the sewing of the dress, as I have made it so many times already and I have used the fabric before. I love it a lot and I've worn it often - which I knew I would, as I wore the Bedelia dress repeatedly before it. The Stella dress had its first outing to London, when I wore it to eat pizza, drink gin and go to that Dean Strang and Jerry Buting event with my friend Kate. I think Stella herself would be into that sort of activity, although I suspect she'd be more of a whisky drinker than a gin drinker. 

I wore another dress that weekend, which I haven't blogged. It's this one:

Catastrophe dress - Christine Haynes Emery dress in Cath Kidston 'Paradise Flowers' fabric, worn with Irregular Choice Windsor shoes

So, it's another Cath Kidston barkcloth Emery dress. It's exactly the same as the Cobblepot dress and the Favour Royal dress. I've worn it probably twice as much as the other two though because I just love the print so damn much. Mostly I have worn it with pink tights and some lovely navy Chelsea boots that I bought in the autumn:


Here's me the day after the Dean and Jerry thing. Nic and I stayed in a lovely hotel in Shoreditch and had a lovely Monday off work pottering around London. We had brunch, went to the Tate Modern, bought records (him) and Tatty Devine jewellery (me) and had an early dinner in Dishoom before heading back up to Leamington.


Since then, I have had reduced sewing time as work kicked into 'peak delivery period', which means lots and lots of all-day meetings and a significant amount of time in London. I made a couple of baby dresses for various friends' baby daughters and I spent a bit of time figuring out a dress to make to wear to a wedding that we had been invited to last weekend. I started with a wearable toile of modified Elisalex dress...

I still haven't thought of a name for this one! I do really like it though. The fabric is some mystery fabric that I bought in Birmingham rag market a few years ago.

I had an idea in my head for dress that was going to be an Elisalex bodice with a gathered tulip skirt in a green brocade, and this was my starting point. After making this, I decided a slight FBA was in order, which I did and tried out like so:

Fleshmarket Close dress - modified By Hand London Elisalex dress in wax cotton that I bought in Paris in 2014. The mirror selfie is taken in my office toilets...you can see this a fair bit if you follow me on instagram! 

So, I had the fit where I wanted it and I had the idea. I even had the accessories. Sadly, though, I couldn't find the perfect fabric. Luckily, I had a Plan B. As we were going to the wedding of two film studies friends - friends who met and fell in love in the same film studies department as Nic and I had, and as our friends Lauren and Rick had, I made a film studies dress:

Cinematic dress - Vogue V8998 bodice (again!) and a circle skirt, in celluloid-print wax cotton that I bought in Amsterdam's Noordemarkt. The clutch bag is Tatty Devine and it's actually a water bottle cover, but it works perfectly as an evening bag. The bride is also a gin drinker so she liked this touch.

I had to sew this up pretty quickly and, having lost a teeny bit of weight recently - which mainly seems to go from my upper chest and not my waist or bust or anywhere useful - the fit is a wee bit off. Still, I really love this dress and it seemed like a really good way to use the fabric and celebrate three happy love stories arising from the film studies department at Warwick! I might blog this one properly at some point as it would be good to get some proper photos of it. 

I also used the leftovers to make a dress for our little film studies baby, Audrey Rae:

This is a terrible 'artistic' photo of Audrey on my knee. That's her little hand and her little foot. She is seven weeks old and she looked awesome in the dress, which made it less awkward that we were both wearing the same thing. One of us had to get changed partway through the evening due to an explosive poo incident. I'm not telling you which one.

That's the sewing craic. TV-wise, Nic and I caught up with the current run of Made in Chelsea on our rewatch, which means that we watched 12 seasons of Made in Chelsea in about three months. I think it's fundamentally changed Nic's view of the world, and it's introduced new words into his vocabulary. We picked up a few extra crime shows - Happy Valley and Wallander (the Swedish one, although I am blatantly going to watch the Branagh one when I get the chance) and we've belatedly become a bit obsessed with Gogglebox. This one is my dad's fault, as he introduced us to it while we were in Northern Ireland at the end of November. I think it's really enjoyable, I genuinely love Mr Siddiqui and I think Leon might be my elderly Liverpudlian alter-ego:

lol it is me

And that's all from me. It's good to be back, at least to say farewell to 2016 and to look forward to ruling over 2017. See you then!

Monday, November 14, 2016

It doesn't have any eyebrows except on Saturdays and when it yawns it sounds like Liam Neeson chasing a load of hens around inside a barrel.

Evening all! It's been a little while, hasn't it? As usual, life and work has been busy and obviously there has been a lot of news going on. Like many people, I was very upset about the outcome of the American presidential election and it's been sort of hard to focus on the frivolous things in life. I won't talk politics in detail here, but obviously it has been on my mind a lot. Good things have been happening too - as life does still go on, even with awful things happening in the world. That has helped. I don't have any soothing words about this horrible situation - none of us do, sadly.

Anyway. I don't mean to be frivolous, but as I feel at a total loss for words about the current world situation I'm going to go back to what I usually do here, which is to show you a dress I made and talk about it a little bit. Tonight it's the turn of another Emery dress in Cath Kidston fabric. I say 'another' - this one was actually the first one in a recent run of them, but it's just taken me a while to get around to taking photos of it.

Favour Royal dress - Christine Haynes Emery dress in Cath Kidston fabric, worn with Swedish hasbeens boots

I bought this fabric from the same ebay shop as the rest of the Cath Kidston fabric I have sewed with, but, somewhat unusually, this is a current print. It's called 'Ashdown Forest' and you can buy a dress and a skirt made from it, as well as it being available on bags and accessories. I actually bought it much earlier this year and it sat in my stash for a while. I wasn't sure if I liked it when I bought it, but I reasoned I could make an autumnal dress out of it, so it would be worth getting anyway. The print is lovely, and it has lots of little hidden animals in it:


In this section you can see a badger, a fox, a stag, a squirrel and a robin. Pretty neat, right?

There's also another little animal hidden in the print...


IT'S A TRICERATOPS! I bought this necklace from Black Heart Creatives, and its arrival prompted me to get some photos of the dress. I like the idea of him stampeding his way through the otherwise peaceful forest. I bought the necklace mainly because it's very cool, but also because Nic and I are going back to Northern Ireland soon and I thought it would tickle my dinosaur-mad nephew Joe. I've ordered some dinosaur-themed fabric too, so I'm also hoping to make a dress before we go.


I named this dress for a place I spent a lot of my childhood in: Favour Royal Forest in Aughnacloy, which is the village where I grew up. Favour Royal is out the Augher Road and the forest is open to the public, so we spent many, many Sunday afternoons out there walking with Daddy, often with cousins or neighbours in tow. It's actually part of what once was an estate, but I've only ever known the big house to be boarded up and derelict. Once, at a friend's birthday party, we ventured across the fields and up what remained of the house's avenue to the house. It was much too spooky for us to go in. In my teens and early twenties, rumours surfaced now and again of The Beast of Aughnacloy - a big cat, possibly a puma, that stalked our border village and especially the area around the Favour Royal Road. It was definitely real and almost certainly not part of some sort of sheep-based conspiracy.

They say it's as big as four cats and it's got a retractable leg so it can leap up at you better. And you know what? It lights up at night. And it's got four ears - two of them are for listening and the other two are kind of back-up ears. Its claws are as big as cups and for some reason it has a tremendous fear of stamps. Mrs Doyle was telling me it's got magnets on its tail so if you're made of metal it can attach itself to you. Oh, and instead of a mouth it's got four arses.

Of course I'm quite sure that Cath had all this in mind when she designed this fabric. I'm just glad to sometimes have an occasion to think about the beast of Aughnacloy, and of happy childhood memories of exploring the forest. I'm very well settled in England nowadays, but a large part of my heart will always belong to County Tyrone.


That's the craic with me tonight. I'm all out of things to say and the tumble-drier is just about to finish its cycle and I can put my pyjamas on straight out of it. Small comforts are important when times are dark, so that's just what I'm going to indulge myself in. Goodnight and good luck xxx

Has it killed yet? No. But it's only a matter of time... No man's sheep is safe. 

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Brr. It sure is cold in here. I wish some strong, chivalrous man would lend me his jacket...or pants.

Hellooooo! What's happening, folks? Not too much craic here, it has to be said - which I'm not complaining about! I'm trying to embrace the clocks going back rather than bemoaning the end of the summer - this mainly involves buying cute boots and candles in shocking amounts and making plans for winter fun. Also, now that it's November, I am busy trying to decide how many chocolate panettone I can reasonably buy from Carluccio's. I bought one massive one last Christmas and it was just THE BEST, and now I am seriously tempted to fill all - ALL - available cupboard space in my kitchen with them. Whatever gets you through, though, right?

So that's the craic. It was Hallowe'en yesterday and I did dress appropriately in a dress that I made from some awesome Alexander Henry fabric:

Previously on Braindead dress - Christine Haynes Emery dress with a pleated skirt in Alexander Henry 'Brains and Beauty' fabric

I made this dress at the end of the summer. It wasn't specifically for Hallowe'en because I'm not massively into Hallowe'en at all. No hate, or anything, I just can never get that excited about it because I don't do fancy dress. I actually also find zombies pretty scary - not because I am worried about a zombie apocalypse (I think it could happen but also I know that I have, like, no survival skills, so I will die before the collapse of society, and I take comfort in that knowledge.) I can live with zombie pinups though, especially these ones. One of them is eating a burger that is a human brain in a bap and, as a vegetarian, I can sympathise with that. So many restaurants seem to think that an adequate vegetarian alternative to a burger is to put a fucking mushroom in a bap. A MUSHROOM IN A BAP IS NOT A FUCKING BURGER.


So, yeah. Anyway, I wore this dress yesterday but it's not what I'm blogging about tonight. This is partly because we've all been here before, but it's also total vanity. You're going to have to trust me that the dress looks lovely in real life but it photographs like shit. It looks wrinkled as fuck in photos - maybe this is to do with the colour? I don't know, but it really doesn't look as wrinkled in real life. So I took one photo for the general idea and now I'm going to move the fuck on.

I have a new hand knit cardigan to blog instead. Thankfully this item photographs a bit better...

Andi Satterlund Salal cardigan and Ball and Chain dress

Yeah so it's another Andi Satterlund design. What can I say? Her knitting patterns float my boat. This is the Salal cardigan, from Andi's magazine, Stranded. I really like a cardigan with a fun yoke design, so I knew this one would be for me. 


The pattern calls for worsted-weight yarn but I knit this in some Cascade 220 superwash, which is closer to DK. Actually, this is sort of a midpoint between the two and I found that I was able to get gauge with no issues. I love the colour, which is called Cobalt Heather. 


I knit size small and the only adjustment that I made was to knit the sleeves full length - mainly because, in the colder weather, I prefer to have full-length sleeves! It was a really quick and easy knit - the lace detailing on the yoke is very easy to memorise and knits really quickly, and then the rest is just in stocking stitch. I finished the body very quickly and then, as I often do, dithered around for ages before starting on the sleeves. Of course, once I started those, I was able to knit them very quickly - you know, knitting sleeves in chunky wool takes no time at all. Annoyingly, I had bought the buttons some time before I knit the cardigan and when it came to sewing them on, I found that I didn't have enough and, in the meantime, the shop I bought them from had closed down! So I have contrasting top and bottom buttons, which I am going to live with for a while and see how I feel. I might still switch them all for other buttons.


I'm very happy with the fit - the length is exactly what I like in a cardigan and I love the waist shaping. It is a little broad across the shoulders on me, which is something that I have found in the past in Andi Satterlund's patterns, but honestly I think this is such a minor issue that I'm not worried about it.


I don't super love this outfit to show the cardigan off - although I will wear the cardigan with this dress, I think the shoes look much better with tights - but I am very pleased with my cardigan and will almost certainly knit another! It's not at the top of the queue, though - I want to knit Andi's Blaster cardigan first and, before then, I need to finish a scarf that I started knitting for Nic. His scarf needs are more pressing than my cardigan needs! I have a lot of cardigans.

So anyway, that's all from me. Last night, we watched The Omen (because Hallowe'een, but also because it's one of my favourite films) and I'm thinking tonight might be the time to give Damien: The Omen II a whirl. I know the same kid isn't in both films but I love the little guy who plays Damien in the first one, especially after reading last night that he got the part because he kicked Richard Donner in the balls.

OMG he is perfect. 

So, yeah...until next time. Night all!