Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Charlie, tell the president he will eat his salad, and if he doesn't like it, he knows where he can put his salad.

Hello! What's the craic, boys and girls? I'm grand - I'm just back from a few days working in London, which were pretty good days, all in all. Although, man, TIRING. I was staying in Bloomsbury, and walked everywhere, and I have the legs walked off myself. Nic joined me so that he could get in some research time at the British Library, and we managed to replenish our energy with pizza from Homeslice and pastries from Maison Bertaux. I'm a country mouse through and through so, all things considered, I was glad to get on the train back to Leamington this afternoon.

So that's the craic with me. Thank you to everyone who took the time to comment and get in touch about my last post. Since then, I have been feeling a lot less stressed about work, which is a good thing! It helps that I only have a few days before I have a whole week off, but in general I am feeling much more in control of my work-life balance. I could have ended up working over the weekend on a project that isn't going well (to put it mildly) but, instead, I recognised that I had done everything that was within my power to do and I put my work laptop away. Nic was out during the day on Saturday, and I spent the morning cleaning and the afternoon sewing. It was a sunny afternoon, I put Silk on autoplay on my laptop (that show is such, such balls, but I love a bit of Rupert Henry-Penry) and I got cracking on a sewing project that has been bubbling away in my brain for a few months.

Mostly, I think pinterest is kind of pointless, but a few months ago someone I follow pinned this dress  from Lena Hoschek's 'Hot Mama Africa' collection:

Lena Hoschek Nairobi dress

It's gorgeous, isn't it? It has a beautiful v-shaped back and a midi skirt. Lush. It's way, way beyond what I would be willing to pay for a dress but then, that's the beauty of being able to sew. I pinned this image to my sewing inspiration board and then I kind of forgot about it until I saw it on Liebling Vintage's instagram, and it went right to the top of my list.

The fabric is one of the things that makes this dress so beautiful and, unfortunately, I didn't have that fabric. But I did have some lovely lengths of wax cotton sitting in my stash, because I find it very difficult to resist when I come across it. Now I really want some in this gorgeous shade of yellow, and I will be hunting for it, but I did have this unusual brown and orange print...

Filthy Names dress - modified By Hand London Flora dress in wax cotton, worn with Swedish hasbeens Suzanne sandals

So, given the shape of the neckline of my inspiration dress, the bodice of the Flora dress was an obvious contender for this dress. I also liked it for this print, as the high neckline would allow me to show off maximum print. It wasn't very difficult to alter the back of the pattern to give this dress a v-shaped back - I just retraced it, drawing a diagonal line down from 5/8 away from where the straps go to the height where I wanted the zip to start. It was very easy, but I stabilised that diagonal edge with some cotton seam tape.

The v on the back of my dress comes down lower than the one on the inspiration dress and I like it, but I don't love it - I think I will experiment with this shape a bit further to get it just how I like it. But this will definitely do for now!

I bought the fabric in January or February from Shepherd's Bush Market. I bought two lengths from one seller and the other one was completely un-usable because it was so badly off-grain, so I was a little bit worried that this would be the same. Thankfully it wasn't - it was slightly off-grain, but as it was only £10 for 5 metres, I think that's fair enough! At the time I bought it kind of because the salesman talked me into it, but now I am very glad that I did, because it's so vibrant and bold.

Here's a close-up of the print. Actually, I think that the brown is more of a very dark purple, but that orange is very definitely orange. I'm having a bit of an orange thing this year - since January, I have bought an orange sofa, orange lamps, orange sandals (the lobster ones!) orange yarn, and an orange satchel. I blame Nic - he bought me an orange anglepoise lamp for Christmas. I do want to get some orange clogs now, because I am predictable.

The Lena Hoschek dress has a matching belt and, based on the close-up photos, it looks like it's one of those where it's a length of elastic in a fabric tube, with a metal clasp on the end. Like the kind that come with those puffer coats? Anyway, those belts give me the creeps... no, I don't know why, so obviously I didn't make one. I don't really do belts, especially not superfluous ones, but maybe this would benefit from a belt. What do you think?

I wore this on Sunday with my orange Myrna cardigan...

I'm still not totally convinced by the sleeves on this cardigan. Maybe I need to knit another orange cardigan with sleeves I like a bit better?!

So, all in all, I'm really happy with how my experiment turned out. I wore this dress for a very long day on Sunday and felt great in it. I'm tempted to make another one from some more of the wax cotton that's lurking in my stash. I'm also going to start lurking the Lena Hoschek shop for more sewing inspiration. I mean, I need to make something inspired by this, right?

Lena Hoschek Makeba Sunflower dress

Anyway, I'm going to head off here. I have a potato to eat and a cardigan to finish. I told you I was a country mouse.

Monday, May 11, 2015

I'm a panhandle hick and my wedding will be just another panel on my mother's family history back tattoo.

Hello! How's the form? I'm mostly very well, although I have a bit of a sore throat that is annoying me. I mean, really, throat? Again?

I had a very stressful and annoying week last week at work. I was let down very badly by the senior leadership in my team and, after all the hard work I have put in over the last few years in my job, it was a massive disappointment. Having been told that I had met the criteria for a (small) bonus and a small (not even at the level of inflation because I work in the public sector and we're in a pay freeze) pay increase, this was then withdrawn on the basis of issues in one project that I am responsible for. It was extremely frustrating because, despite the issues, the project was signed off on time, and it was signed off on time because I put in a huge amount of work to rectify the issues. It made me very angry that, rather than considering my good work and my many achievements throughout the year, I was punished for fixable errors in one project.

It was very upsetting on the day I found out, but since then I have been able to take a bit of a step back. I'm constantly stressed about work. This is, in large part, because I work in a stressful job, but it's also because I have been putting myself under huge pressure to be basically perfect at all times. To do this, I have worked long hours and made myself ill by pushing myself to the point of exhaustion. It's made me suffer physically and the anxiety has, at times, been crippling. And it's stupid, and it's still clearly not enough. So, in a weird way, although it was incredibly discouraging to see the evidence of that first-hand, it's also curiously freeing. I'm not going to stop trying hard to do a good job, and to do my job to the best of my ability, but I do feel now like I no longer have an impossibly high standard to live up to - because I know that the standard is totally bogus.

There are still so many things that I genuinely enjoy about my job - my colleagues and my line manager are fantastic and I find the job challenging and interesting. But I'm not going to let it dominate my life in quite the same way. So that feels weirdly good. I sincerely hope that I'll have far fewer reasons to write here that I've had a stressful week or that I've been too busy to enjoy my life. I even have a week off coming up to look forward to, so that will be good!

Anyway - that's a non crafting or shoes-related digression, so let's bring on the crafting and the shoes, right?! Those are the much more fun things in life. Nic and I had a little day out in Birmingham on Saturday and I took the opportunity to get some photos of my most recent hand-knit - an Andi Satterlund Hetty cardigan. This cardigan seemed very daunting to me because of the all-over lace pattern. I wasn't sure if I would be able to keep track of the pattern while I was knitting the decreases at the side, and I really wasn't sure if I was going to be able to manage the sleeves. However, this was much less difficult than I had anticipated and Hetty turned out to be a really interesting and enjoyable cardigan to knit.

Andi Satterlund 'Hetty' cardigan, Frog Princess dress and Swedish hasbeens pearl braided sky high sandals

Purple cardigan! The yarn is Cascade 220 (obvs) and the colour is called Iris, although I think it has been discontinued. There are little flecks of blues and pinks in the yarn that make it very pretty, although it feels slightly scratchier than the other colours I have knitted with. It's grand to wear, though.

I knitted the size small and, as I said above, I largely found this to be a really enjoyable cardigan to knit. I had to rip it back to the armholes twice because I had made stupid mistakes but, by the time I had done that, the lace repeat was very firmly implanted into my head. This is a good thing - one of the reasons that I find knitting appealing is that my short-term memory for numbers isn't very good, and knitting is helping to improve that. My tip for knitting this cardigan is to memorise the lace repeat because, if you can read where you are in the pattern, it makes it much easier to keep the pattern straight and to know when to begin and end the lace repeat when you're knitting the short rows at the sleeve cap.

I have bought some pink yarn to knit another Hetty cardigan and I will make a few small changes. I really like the overall length but I would like the waistband to be deeper, so I will stop knitting the lace a few rows earlier and knit more ribbing instead. This will also allow me to fit another buttonhole and button in at the bottom! I'll also do as quite a few people have suggested for binding off the sleeves, and switch to a larger knitting needle for doing that. I did use a stretchy bind-off technique but the hem (is that the right word?) of the sleeves is a little bit tighter than I would like.

Those are only minor things though, and I've already worn this cardigan quite a lot since I finished it. I wasn't sure initially if the lower and wider neckline was going to be practical - so many of my dresses have higher necklines than this - but actually, I like how it looks. I love the shape of the neckline, and I think my ribbing there is really pretty and neat! I am very happy with how the cardigan fits - basically, I have learned to stop worrying about the button-bands pulling a bit because, as I gather, this is not unusual on cardigans that are designed to be worn with negative ease. Or maybe I'm just telling myself that. Whatever.

Here's the back! I'm standing awkwardly, I know, but this way you can see how lovely and straight my lace patterning is. Yay! I do think this would look better with a deeper waistband ribbing though, so I am definitely going to do that on the next Hetty cardigan.

And here's how it looks unbuttoned. Yay! So, although I have been broadly happy with the other cardigans I have knitted, this is the first time I have been straight-up totally delighted with one. It's partly because I feel like I learned so much with this project and it really built my confidence - it was genuinely very pleasing to realise that I understood where the pattern was going and what I needed to do to get the lace repeat to work evenly on the sleeves. That felt like a big breakthrough. I can understand why so many bloggers start out by knitting Andi Satterlund's patterns because, while the instructions don't hold your hands, the designs allow you to learn techniques in a very manageable way. I can knit a lace repeat! And, as I discovered at the end of last week, I can do cable knitting! Yes, I have already cast on my next project - a Marion cardigan in bright green yarn.

I didn't sign up officially for Me Made May 2015. I wear handmade clothes almost every day and I knew that I would have too many things going on this month to make taking daily outfit photos anything other than a chore. I do often instagram pictures of my handmade clothes though, and tag them as such, so I decided I would unofficially play along. It's felt good, on days like Saturday, when both my dress and my cardigan were handmade!

Also, I like to instagram things that make me laugh. So there's that, too.

Birmingham shops have a strong pun game. I like the honesty that Mother Cluckers bring to their marketing.

On that note, I'm off to eat dinner and then crack on a bit further with my next cardigan. Maybe I'll even start thinking about my next sewing project. I do still sew, you know! Catch you on the flippedy-flip, my friends!

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

No wonder he changed his name. You don't get many Nigel the Greats, do you?

Evening all! I've emerged, blinking, from a lovely bank holiday weekend to another week at work. Dramatic sigh. It was a very good weekend, in which I was able to find the time to do lots of my favourite things. I bought (and drank) some gin, made a dress, did some knitting and spent time with friends, laughing and eating tasty food. It's a hard job, but someone had to do it!

I had had a very long day on Thursday - a 12-hour work day followed by dinner in the pub with friends - so I sacked off work at lunchtime on Friday, the better to get the value out of my bank holiday weekend. It's a lovely feeling and I'm looking forward to having a proper break at the end of the month. It was really cold on Saturday - or at least, it felt really cold - so I spent the afternoon holed up indoors, sewing. It's been ages since I spent a whole day sewing and I really enjoyed myself.  I was feeling inspired because, when she was in Paris a few weeks ago, my friend Emily bought me some amazing fabric from Petit Pan. It was a complete surprise and typically thoughtful of Emily. the fabric came to me via her sister Amy (who I happened to see before I saw Em) with the message, "I hope you're not offended by this!" Errrr what. The fabric is awesome:

Grenadine Menthe fabric from Petit Pan

I did a little dance of happiness in my chair when I unwrapped this and immediately started plotting what to do with it. The print obviously called to mind a 60s-style shift dress, but I had 2.5 metres and I wanted to make something I would wear often. I wanted a full skirt, basically. So, on Friday I went and bought a bunch of yellow buttons and I made myself another McCall's 6696 shirt-dress.

Telescope dress and Swedish hasbeens peep-toe sandals

Holy bright sunshine, Batman! I was running late for a party at Amy's house when we took these photos, so we didn't have time to find a better location. In a way, though, the dazzling sunshine kind of works with the ridiculously loud print.

This is the fourth McCall's 6696 that I've made and I'm finally happy with the fit. It's still not perfect, but it's as close as I'm going to get, I think. I didn't get any photos of the back but it still blouses a bit more than I am strictly happy with - but, you know, I can't see it so I've decided I'm not going to fight that good fight any more. I have shortened the bodice by an inch and a half and, on this dress, I sewed the buttons on off-centre, and that helped. I also did my own button placement around the waistband, sewing three buttons close together to keep the fabric closed over my widest point - my stomach!

I bought the yellow plastic buttons in a local fabric shop. Green might have been a better choice, but all I wanted to do was accessorise this fabric with yellow and, indeed, I wore it with yellow button earrings (which I annoyingly forgot to get a photo of.) I think it also looks great - in a totally kitsch way - with my yellow Agatha cardigan:

You'll not lose me in a crowd

Annoyingly, this is one of those projects that doesn't photograph as well as it looks in real life. I really love this dress. The fabric is beautiful - it's a very high quality cotton lawn and it is really enjoyable to wear. Also, I think the shirt-dress shape shows it off really well - I like the fact that it's quite a demure shape and style in such a wild print. In any case, I hope to wear this a lot over the summer.

Here's a wee close-up of the bodice. I'm not entirely sure why I'm so dramatically not looking at the camera but I was honestly very hungry when these photos were being taken so my mind was elsewhere. The gaping there between the second and third buttons isn't there when I am standing straight, just so you know. I think having my hands on my hips was pulling the fabric a bit oddly.

I'm still not finished with McCall's 6696. I have another Liberty Carline one to make in purple, and I have plans to make one from the same wax cotton that I made the Bedelia dress from... and, no doubt, other fabrics will present themselves as being perfect for this lovely pattern. I'm really proud of the finish I achieved on this one, particularly the collar:

I found Andrea's tutorial at Four Square Walls to be particularly helpful, and following it made sewing this collar enjoyable. There's something very satisfying about the precision required, I think.

I spent most of Saturday sewing this dress, because I knew I'd be seeing Emily on Monday and I wanted to be able to wear the dress. Nic and I were out for most of Saturday - we went to Coventry with Amy and Barney to go to Ikea and the Coventry Transport Museum, and to go for a meal in Cosmo. I'm not usually one for all-you-can-eat places, because they're not usually too good for vegetarians, but the food is pretty good in Cosmo and the whole experience is charmingly insane. As our friends were driving, and were kind enough to park in Ikea, I finally succumbed to the siren call of the Tastrup rug and now our bedroom is approximately 300% more colourful:

After such an exciting day, I was in no state to do anything other than lie on the sofa and watch trashy TV, so it was just as well that I had finished the dress on Saturday. Also, after eating so much at Cosmo, I'm pretty certain I'd have had someone's eye out with flying buttons. HEALTH AND SAFETY FIRST, PEOPLE. 

Emily seemed delighted to see the fabric made up into a dress, and she even got to see a blog photoshoot in action, as Nic and I attempted to take some photographs that weren't completely sun-drenched:

Here it is in its natural state: drinking wine

This dress was perfect for drinking wine in the sunshine with friends. It's a very happy dress - I enjoyed making it, and I am so touched by what a thoughtful and kind gift it was. I'm already looking forward to wearing it again! Maybe next time, I will try accessorising it with green. In fact, I have some bright green yarn on its way to me for another cardigan, so that's a distinct possibility!

Right-o. I'm old these days, so right now I want nothing more than to go and put my pyjamas on and have a nice cup of tea. So that's what I'm going to do!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

This wasn't amateur hour, Phil. People died because of your lack of supervision. There were raptors all up in the kitchen, Phil. IN THE GODDAMN KITCHEN.

Hello you lot, what's up? Things are grand here in Clackett Towers. Or at least, I'm feeling no pain. Work is still stressful as shit but Nic and I had a wonderful weekend celebrating the wedding of two very dear friends, and what's better than that? Not many things, that's what.

The wedding was a long day, but a really lovely one. The ceremony was held in the UK's oldest working cinema, The Electric and the reception in a village hall in Warwickshire. I was a bridesmaid, and Nic an usher, and the wedding had a rainbow theme. Seeing two people who are so important to us get married was very special and it was an emotional day. And, needless to say, I danced my ass off!

After the ceremony, we all boarded a Routemaster bus to take us to the reception. This was a lot of fun but, although I don't generally get motion sickness, the rickety suspension made me feel pretty bokey. I liked my green bridesmaid dress, which came from Vivien of Holloway. I have a few of these dresses already but, since I learned to sew, I've become very aware that the bodice on this dress is too long for me. Ah well. It was a fun bridesmaid dress and certainly beats the standard peach tulle nightmare.

Inside the village hall. I helped to decorate this! The wedding had a rainbow theme and this room looked even better in real life. The bride's father made the light-up letters and the groom's parents put together most of the multi-coloured paper hearts on the backs of the chairs. They also made the centrepieces, which were tea-light holders and helium balloons.

Each guest had a personalised place-setting made from a record. These were chosen to have some significance to the guest - mine was 'Loving You' by Brian Harvey. It's not because I'm a fan (or ever was a fan) of East 17, but because I never stop finding Brian Harvey eating too many jacket potatoes and running over himself funny. He's a national treasure.

It was a long day and my old housemate, who was one of the DJs, stayed with us so we sat up into the early hours of the morning catching up. Miraculously, none of us were hungover on Sunday but I must admit to still being pretty tired now. I'm getting old, what can I say?

I spent Sunday watching Law and Order UK and knitting - I really am getting old - and yesterday I got briefly out into the sunshine to take out a new dress that I finished recently. A dress that I made on a Sunday when I did have a slight hangover. Ugh, I'm so predictable. The dress is pretty cute though. At least, I think so:

Beeswing dress - By Hand London Kim bodice with a circle skirt in printed cotton poplin from Hill-Berg fabrics, worn with Swedish hasbeens 'Mimmi' sandals

This fabric fits in well with a post about Rick and Lauren's wedding because the first time I saw it was on a day out in Banbury with them. There are a couple of fabric shops in Banbury, nothing too exciting, and this fabric made me laugh because the print is pretty random. Even by my standards:

Okay, so a teacup, a teapot and some cherries. Nothing new there. A butterfly, some daisies and a shell? Right enough. Pepper, peas and onions... what the hell kind of shopping list is this, anyway? I can't quite explain why the fact that this print had onions on it made me laugh so much, but it did. I didn't buy the fabric that day but I couldn't stop thinking about it, and when Nic and I were in Bristol in March I went to Fabricland on one errand just to find it. It was £2.99 a metre, which was cheaper than it had been in Banbury, so I guess it was worth the wait. Also, in the meantime, I figured out why it had made me laugh so much - it reminded me of a few things we'd had in my house when I was growing up. Things such as this mug:

Children of the 80s. We all had these, right? Did any of you ever have soup out of them though? I never did - ours were used strictly as ornaments and also to put coppers, old batteries and sewing needles in. I keep seeing them in charity shops but nostalgia has never pushed me over the edge into buying one. Also I'm pretty sure Nic wouldn't allow me to. I'm not allowed to buy any more mugs.

ANYWAY THE DRESS. Pretty soon after I saw this fabric in Banbury, Amber blogged herself wearing a dress made from the very same fabric, but in a slightly different colour. On her, it looked less funny and more chic and I mentally filed the look away for later use. Eventually, I remembered Pinterest and pinned it. Which is all a long way of saying that Amber's dress inspired this one. I initially thought of using the Anna bodice and a full, pleated skirt but a combination of the Kim bodice and a circle skirt is what called to me. God, that was boring, sorry! Have another picture instead:

I'm not sure why I look so serious in these photos! I've gradually tweaked the fitting on the Kim bodice to a point where I'm happy with it, although I think I'd like to make the sweetheart shape on the neckline slightly more pronounced on a future one. Possibly.

There's really not a lot to say about this dress! I haven't sewed that much with novelty fabrics this year, which wasn't a deliberate choice. I was just feeling the florals. Despite that, I can't help but be pretty tickled to have not only a pair of onions on my bust but also a spoon pointing directly at one of my breasts. If you can't have fun with your clothes, what is even the point?!

I was working from home yesterday and wore this to have a little cruise around town in the afternoon. I have to push myself to get out of the house on working from home days as I feel huge guilt for leaving my computer even to make a cup of tea, and it's not healthy. This little walk in the sunshine at lunchtime did me a lot of good, even if the shop I needed to go to was closed. Sadly, the sunshine was deceptive and it was too cold in just a cardigan and a strappy dress so when I got home I put on a big cardigan and got out the fleece blanket. It is still only April, I suppose.

Anyway, I must go here. Nic has put on Jurassic Park and I have the second sleeve of a cardigan to knit. I was worrying about knitting the sleeves on my Hetty cardigan but the first one went well, so I will hopefully have a new purple cardigan before too long. So goodnight!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

It's a beautiful, sunny day and we're in an opticians. It doesn't get any better than this.

Hello! It's Thursday afternoon, which is my Friday this week as I have taken tomorrow off. Dudes, I have needed it. This week has been pretty tough. I know you're probably all pretty much over me crabbing about work, but I have had a stressful week. I ended up crying on my walk from work to the train station yesterday afternoon - not because anything particularly bad happened but because I had just hit a wall of feeling totally fed up. I have an extra project on top of my usual workload and it is just doing my head in. Nothing seems to be going right, it's a huge time-suck and it's been making work really hard. I've also been ill - the cold I had last week turned into a chest infection, so that was fun.

Anyway, last night I came home from work early to have my hair cut - I was never more grateful that my salon offers its customers wine - and then Nic and I went out for dinner with friends. I was working from home today and I was a bit kinder to myself, and I'm feeling a lot better now. I'm not going to lie though lads, alcohol helped. So did getting something pretty in the post this morning. What can I say? I'm shallow.

I bought an orange satchel from Zatchels last payday and it FINALLY arrived today. They do say that their bags can take up to 30 days to be dispatched which, fair enough, but each time I have bought something from them it's taken ages and only eventually been posted when I contacted them to remind them about it. Sigh. That's how it happened with this bag too, which is very annoying, but the bag is pretty awesome so it could be worse.

Two things made me want to buy the bag. One is that I have quite a few satchels now and, you know me, when I find something I like I essentially want it in ALL THE COLOURS. The other is that, at some point at the end of last year, Heather B posted a picture of Miss L-Fire's lobster sandals on Instagram and a whole outfit based around it popped into my head. I pre-ordered the sandals as soon as they were available and... you know where this is going, right?

Lobsterlex dress worn with Andi Satterlund Myrna cardigan, Miss L-Fire Rock Lobster sandals and orange satchel

I knitted an orange cardigan to wear with my Lobsterlex/Lobster sandal combination. YEAH! This is an Andi Satterlund 'Myrna' cardigan and I did knit one of these before which is, quite frankly, kind of embarrassing now. I hated the yarn (it was that shitty Rico cotton yarn) and also, I misunderstood the pattern and knitted it too short. So this one - while not perfect - is a massive improvement. It's gratifying to know that I am getting better at this.

I nearly always end up pulling this face when Nic takes photos of me because it makes him laugh

So. Myrna details, right? I knitted this using Cascade 220, but the superwash rather than the...erm, normal? Sorry, still don't get yarn weights. Anyway, I bought this because it already comes in a ball rather than in a skein and so I wouldn't have to wind that shit into a ball. Eh. That didn't really work but the yarn itself is super to work with - it's soft and springy and not too fluffy. And it comes in basically EVERY colour so it might be a while before I knit with anything else. This colour is called Pumpkin and it's not aggressively orange but I do kind of wish I had bought the brighter orange, which is called Blaze. It's not even that I like the colour better, it's just that the name is awesome.

Does anyone else remember Streets of Rage 2?

I knitted this cardigan up really quickly. I had to go to Slough for work the Friday before last and, although I have a Hetty cardigan on the go, I didn't think I'd be able to concentrate on the sleeves on a train journey so I cast on Myrna. By last Sunday it was ready to be blocked, so it took me just over a week! Granted, I was ill and spent more of that week knitting on the sofa than I usually would, but still. This was a lovely mindless project because it's knitted mainly in stockinette. There's a little bit of lace detailing around the neckline and waist, and I really enjoyed knitting the v-neck. The sleeves are fun too, with the sleeve cap done with short rows. I loved knitting the sleeves but they're part of the reason why I'm not sure how much I like this cardigan. Anne Shirley would be ALL over these puff sleeves but I'm not certain I like them on me.


Okay I am going to say one more negative thing about this and then I'll say nice things. I knitted this, like, two rows too long. I don't know if anyone else will care, but I would have liked it to be a fraction shorter. Also something weird happened to my cast-off at the corner of the waist ribbing where the button-band begins and I had to re-do it and now I think it looks a bit weird. Can you see it?

Overall though, I'm pretty happy with this and I think I will knit another Myrna pretty soon. Maybe in the Blaze colourway... LOL JUST KIDDING. I didn't love this when I finished it, but actually I think I'll wear it a fair bit. I didn't have an orange cardigan and I think this will work well with quite a few of my dresses. But mainly I'm still totally buzzing that I can knit stuff that I actually want to wear and the things I'm being critical about are still pretty minor. I know I can and will get better at this with practice.

Here's the back view - I think you can see from this that it could stand to be slightly shorter. The pattern is designed to have a cute little keyhole feature in the upper back but I am just not good enough yet at casting off in the round to not make a mess of it. Also, I know that a short-sleeved cardigan is not terribly practical in general but I thought I would wear it less if it had a hole in the back - even one that was meant to be there.

I think it looks pretty cute unbuttoned as well...

And... as for the sandals. Well, much like the bag, these were kind of worth the wait:

They are totally and utterly ridiculous and I don't even care. I love them, and I promise I won't only wear them with this dress. It might be difficult to want to wear this dress with any other shoes, though!

Anyway, I'm going to leave you here. I have stuff to do this evening... housework stuff that I haven't had the time to do this week but also drinking wine and eating dinner and hanging out with Nic. Remembering that life is good even when work is hard.

Earlier today. Hashtag classy as fuck.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Farewell and adieu to you, fair Spanish ladies. Farewell and adieu, you ladies of Spain.

AHOOOYYY THERE MATEYS! It's Friday! It's Friday and, for the first time this week, I woke up feeling well. It's only been a cold, and I've been able to work through it, but MAN, it has made this week a massive drag. I had a few pressing deadlines at work, and then a few arbitrary and annoying last-minute deadlines were thrown into the mix - I've basically spent this week on the sofa, cussing out the world.

I'm still not 100% better - I'm sniffling like nobody's business and I can feel a tension in my neck that is partly due to the fact that I have been writing all week and partly, you know, having a sore throat and that, but I am feeling chirpy enough to do something other than knit and watch eleven thousand episodes of Law & Order UK. So I'm calling it an improvement. Just in time, too, as I'm away to London tomorrow for a museum visit, afternoon tea, fabric shopping and cocktails with some sewing friends. As Peggy Hill would say, HO YEAH!

That's the craic with me. No sewing this week - seriously, I have basically only been on either the sofa or in bed (working from home for the win) but, maybe this afternoon. My sewing machine is winking at me from the corner and I have some mad fabric that's waiting to be made into some sort of impractical party frock. You know, standard. But, like I said in my last post, I do have a queue of stuff to blog about. Rachel commented on my last post to say that when I blog a dress, her five-year-old daughter shouts, "Dolly Clackett's got a new dress!" Well, Rachel's daughter:

(Seriously though, is that not the cutest damn thing you've ever heard? That really made me smile.)

Here's the dress, anyway:

Amity dress - By Hand London Kim dress, worn with Miss L Fire Lovebird sandals

Dolly Clackett has a new dress and a fat face, apparently. And she also has prescription sunglasses now, which look a lot less goofy in real life. Maybe.

So. The story of this dress is that I used to have a different dress made out of the same fabric. It was a By Hand London Anna dress with a gathered skirt and you can see it here. I loved that dress but it became too big, and it didn't survive one of my many wardrobe culls. I can be pretty brutal, even with handmade dresses that I love. Anyway, a few weeks ago Sharne spotted some of the fabric (which is 'My Favourite Ship' by Sarah Jane for Michael Miller) at a ridonkulous price in Abakhan (like, £5.95 a metre) and she very kindly bought a couple of metres for me and popped them in the post. Sewing people are the bomb dot com, and that's the truth.

The other truth is that, despite the following facts, I never seem to have enough nautical-themed dresses:

  • I can't swim and have no intention of learning (don't lecture me, I don't care)
  • Leamington is pretty far from the sea. It's a matter of dispute, but we do have a tree that people claim is the tree that is furthest away from the sea in England. It's called the Midland Oak, and it has a plaque on it and everything
So, you know, another dress with nautical shit on it maybe isn't that necessary. But who cares, right? 
Seriously don't lecture me about learning to swim, because I don't want to hear it.

I still have a little bit of work to do on the Kim bodice to get the fit just right. I've re-drawn the straps to make them substantially shorter, which I thought might make shortening the bodice unnecessary. I think I could still stand to shorten the bodice a bit. I could go all-out and do a slight FBA as well but to be honest, what's stopping me from doing that is that I don't really mind my bust being a bit downplayed, here. I don't know. I still feel pretty exposed in anything other than a high neckline. Those are minor things though and I'm mainly pointing them out because I feel like I should. I'm super happy with this dress. So happy, I'm even going to show you my Derpy Back. Prepare yourselves:


Just looking all casually here at the pedalos. Yeah - Leamington might not have the sea, but we do have a place where you can hire pedalos shaped like cars and swans and stuff. You can hire actual boats, too, but that's not as funny. I'm standing on a little bridge here, which seemed like a good place to take photos, but we kept being interrupted by this couple who... I don't know what they were at, to be honest. They were either powerfully curious at the act of someone having photos taken or they just really enjoyed crossing the same bridge OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN.

In all seriousness, I was shaking my head here. Why does the public have to ruin public places?!

In honesty, the bridge was already kind of my back-up photo location. Right by this bridge is a little children's play area that has a pretty boss pirate ship climbing frame/slide deal, only when we walked past it initially there was a really sketchy guy sitting on the merry-go-round thing. Like, you couldn't make it up - it was some sketchy looking dude in his 40s, sitting on his own in a children's play area, with his hands in his pockets. It was like something out of Brass Eye. Or the Daily Mail. There weren't any children around, so it could have been worse, but I didn't especially want to engage with him. However, the couple on the bridge were such an irritant, we decided to go to the little play area anyway. The sketchy guy had moved on, but that damn couple followed us! I'm totally serious. Anyway, who cares, because:

oh yeah

The fake pirate ship has a steering wheel, which I desperately wanted to have photos taken on. I wasn't sure I'd be up to climbing up the rigging and, foolishly, thought the best way up was by going up the slide. "How hard can it be?" I thought, "It's only for small children!" WRONG.


Nic did take some photos of me at the steering wheel thing, but to be honest I look like a complete dick in all of them. So here's me looking out to sea. I mean, looking out over the park, and thinking about my lunch:

I bet you're wondering how I could look more like a dick in the photos that I deleted than I do here. Ha ha!

The only way down was to take the slide.

Honestly, you guys. The things I do for this blog. But also this was the best lunchtime I've had in months. After we played on the slide, Nic and I went and bought sandwiches and had a little stroll in town, and then I came home and finished up my work for the week. Hurrah! We're going to head out shortly for a walk and to do some grocery shopping (translation: buy some wine) and I might even get some sewing done when we get home.

The name of the dress is a reference to two things. One is that I was listening to Elliott Smith while I was sewing it - I started with Figure 8 and moved on to XO - but also, you know, it has boats on it. They're pretty big boats, but Jaws is one of my Top 5 Favourite films. It's a film that I never don't feel like watching, if that makes sense? Like, I'm always happy to watch it. I'd be happy to watch it even if I had already watched it that day. Jaws is another reason why I'm in no massive hurry to learn to swim. No, that's a joke, mostly.

I love everything - seriously everything - about Jaws. I think it's pretty much the perfect film. But, and think me shallow if you like, but seriously one of my favourite things about the film is Murray Hamilton as the Mayor of Amity, Larry Vaughn. I mean, come on:

LINEN BLAZER WITH ANCHORS ON IT. THIS IS NOT A DRILL. That's also a nice tie there, boss. Maybe it's weird, but I am totally inspired by this. Maybe I should make a blazer out of that Robert Kaufman anchor-print chambray that was everywhere a few months ago. I reckon I could wear that. I wouldn't look as totally rad as this guy though, sadly.

You know what I'm saying, right? I just don't have that kind of panache.

Anyway, that's my nautical Kim dress. You'd better believe I'll be packing this when we next go to visit Nic's mum and dad at the seaside. Hopefully I'll have some kind of nautical blazer to wear with it by then too. Watch this space.

Right lads, I'm going to head off here and go out and buy some wine. Farewell and adieu, you fair Spanish ladies.