Wednesday, January 19, 2022

There’s more to life than making shallow, fairly obvious observations.

 Hello!! Larry David says that it's too late to say Happy New Year, but... Happy New Year!

I mean he has a point, to be fair. 

Anyway I hope your entry into 2022 hasn't been too bad. Nic and I had a very restful and lovely break over Christmas, and we managed to stay safe and healthy which felt somewhat like winning the lottery, honestly. Travelling via train to the north seemed like a bad idea so we had a very quiet break at home and it was lovely. I was very happy to spend our first Christmas in Dublin (and my first in Ireland for about 8 years) at home watching films and knitting. On the New Year's Day bank holiday, we took the Luas up into the suburbs and walked up the mountain for a drink in the car park of a pub with maybe the best view in Dublin:

It's not the best photo but we were treated to an incredible rainbow after the briefest shower of rain. It was very cold but a beautiful spot to drink a pint and eat some pizza and I'm sure it'll be even better in the warmer weather (although significantly busier, I would imagine!)

We did spend some time with family - my dad, both of my sisters and two of my nephews visited at the start of the holidays and we spent a very fun day together exploring the city. None of the children ever had the chance to visit our home when we lived in England so it makes me very happy to be able to have them here. Both nephews - Joe and Matthew - had great craic playing with the Seinfeld Lego that Nic got me for my birthday. Matthew was fascinated by the city - although he had visited us before, we hadn't left the neighbourhood, and he enjoyed walking into the city centre and seeing what it was like. It was fun to see it through his eyes - he was curious about everything and he really enjoyed himself. It was great!

The January blues haven't been hitting too hard... it turns out that going back to work after a holiday isn't that stressful when your job isn't horrible! I've been able to have a relatively gentle start back into the working year and I'm gradually starting to get back into the office as well. My workplace takes COVID safety very seriously: we have high-quality air filters in the offices, restrictions on numbers, we've all been provided with KN95 masks and students with free antigen tests (these are not available for free in Ireland unless you've been a close contact of someone with COVID) so anyway I feel cautiously optimistic about starting to go back into the office. I am working on some fun and interesting projects and I continue to feel very pleased at where I ended up working.

I've been doing very little sewing - as I mentioned before, I'm in a bit of a funk where I'm not sure what I want to wear! Part of it is the winter and working from home: when I was working in the office full-time, wearing a dress with tights, a cardigan and a pair of heels made sense even when it was pretty cold. But when I'm mostly at home - and now have a long walk to work (which I love) - this isn't as an attractive an option. I'll be back in dresses in the spring, but I am finding myself both keen to explore new styles and gripped with indecision about what those new styles should be. I'm figuring it out. In the meantime I've ordered some jeans online... we'll see how that works out (!)

Anyway - I have really liked the couple of things I have made in the last few months. After the unexpected success of the Bakerloo blouse, I made a dress version. Liberty lawn is difficult to buy here in Ireland but quite a few places stock Liberty quilting cotton... which is something I didn't even know existed? I bought three metres of the Hampstead Meadow print and I had just enough to make the dress version with the elbow-length sleeves. It is 44 inches wide and a directional print so I didn't have quite enough to make the ruffle for the collar... so I improvised with some red ric-rack that had been in my stash of notions for pretty much as long as I've been sewing:

I sewed it in just as you would sew in the ruffle, although of course it means that there is a little bit of a gap where the two collar pieces meet in the centre front neckline. I was full of doubts as I was doing it - not least because there isn't any red in the print - and it IS quite ridiculous but also I like it a LOT. 

I would say that quilting cotton probably isn't the best choice for this pattern - or at least, Liberty quilting cotton isn't. It's lovely quality but it doesn't have too much drape so the smocked style means that the skirt sticks out a bit. That said, I'm really happy with it and I've worn it quite a lot since making it in early November. 

Wearing it out for cocktails in a fancy hotel in Ballsbridge in December

I was keen to try the pattern out in a fabric with more drape so I ordered some viscose lawn from Fabric Godmother to have another go. Buying fabric from the UK is an absolute bollocks now with Brexit and seemingly completely arbitrary customs charges from An Post, so I avoid it mostly. However, having access to a UK postal address (my parents' house) means I can avoid the customs charges if I'm willing to wait for my fabric mule to visit! So I bought some viscose lawn and my dad brought it down when he visited in late December and on the couple of days before Christmas, I made myself another one:

This fabric was 55 inches wide so I bought 2.5 metres and had enough to cut out the ruffle. The print is subtly directional and I managed to cut out my pieces upside down! But I don't think it's terribly noticeable. In both dresses, I cut a straight size 10 - the fit is so relaxed that I just made sure I was happy with the placement of the bust darts and didn't fuss with it otherwise. But in this fabric, which has a great deal of drape, I wanted to reduce some of the volume so I took the bodice in about an inch at the side seams. 

It took me a couple of days to sew this dress - I was interrupted by the fact that I had my booster a few days before Christmas and felt extremely tired the day afterwards - but also I just straight-up did not enjoy sewing with the viscose. I'm a lazy seamstress in that I largely avoid sewing with slippery fabrics and mostly don't really like wearing them. This fabric is so lovely, though. It is so soft and light and feels beautiful to wear. It takes a press very nicely and doesn't wrinkle excessively. It's beautiful! So it was worth the very slight fighting with it I had to do. I wore it on Christmas day and although we didn't leave the house because the weather was so awful, I felt so pretty and glamorous and COMFORTABLE all day. So, hurrah! I have ordered some viscose linen to make another version for the spring - without the collar and with a longer skirt, I think. I just need to wait on my mule to carry it down from Tyrone.

I've made one garment so far this year, which is another pair of Closet Core Jenny overalls. These were a dream garment in so far as I was able to make my own version of the pair that inspired me to buy the pattern. I bought some Ruby Star society linen canvas from a shop in Ireland and got sewing just after Christmas:

Jenny Overalls with RTW shirt and clogs 

I'm really delighted with these. My winter uniform these last few years has been a pair of printed Jenny overalls so these make a wonderful addition to my four other pairs! These were directly inspired by the pair that Devon of Miss Make made a few years ago in the same fabric - it was seeing these that made me buy the pattern, but the fabric proved frustratingly elusive! Anyway I'm delighted with them and even if the cropped length is a little impractical in cold weather, I think they're gorgeous!

I do have some loose sewing plans - I want to make a gingham midi dress; possibly another Bakerloo top if I can find the right fabric; I have bought The Assembly Line Cuff Dress pattern and am waiting for fabric inspiration to strike and I'm considering - considering - making some elastic waist trousers such as the Style Arc Bob pants. These are extremely out of my comfort zone but I think possibly worth a go. Maybe!

Anyway, that's the craic there, sewing-wise. Here's a few photos of the last few months in Dublin:

A stunning purple sky over our neighbourhood park

Wolf Moon from Merchant's Quay on my walk home from work on Monday evening

Looking for seals in Dalkey

Sunset at Sandymount Strand