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this may be the quickest I’ve ever gone from idea to pattern to first test to blog post…
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there are some big life changes coming up in a matter of weeks which involve me leaving my job, taking time out and setting myself up in business as a designer-maker with a small clothing collection.
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There are lists and spreadsheets and ideas upon ideas.
This here is prototype number one for a dress for the collection. There are changes to be made before it reaches its final iteration but in it’s current form it’s my favourite new dress and may well be what I wear to make the entire collection!!!
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 So I knit a new hat. This pattern, Diode, seemed to be all over my Instagram feed for a while there… I particularly liked Jen from Grainline’s neon one. The pattern calls for a five ply yarn, which I’m not sure I’ve ever come across before… I didn’t stick to that, my yarn is one of my Squein Queen Surprise Club deliveries that I mentioned squishing into overflowing drawers in my last post… this is a much better use for it I’m sure you’ll agree. The yarn is 4ply so my hat is more lightweight than the pattern description,which is pretty much perfect for this time of year here!    


A synopsis of the knitting would be something along the lines of the double depth ribbed brim goes on forever, the bobbles are fun to make and have the same effect on productivity as stripes (just one more!) and the decreases line the bobbles up in a very neat fashion, as illustrated in the sideways picture below😉

 
Incidentally, if anyone can tell me how to control photos when using the iPad WordPress app please go for it… The photo is the right way up in the bog standard photos app and saved but even if I rotate it a further 90degrees it’s still coming up sideways here. Mark took these photos for me back at Easter but the thoughts of battling with the apps to post means I keep pushing it onto tomorrow! *technologywoes*!!

I got into a habit of joining yarn clubs, petting the yarn when it arrived and putting it away for future use. It all started with a run in Hedgehog Twist Sock, then came 1 round of the Irish Yarn Club, 2 rounds of the Skein Queen Suprise Book club (I had opted for the variegated and semi solid option on both rounds) and I had also pounced on the Kate Davies Buachaile Club when it was announced. 

None of the sock yarn was even in sight, it was still in it’s original hanks and packed carefully in a zip lock bag. Last year I used the three Irish Yarn Club skeins but for different patterns than what they came with, and while I regularly looked at the Skein Queen packages and read the Kate Davies book I hadn’t actually done anything with them. 

I realised this pattern of lusting after short run artisan yarns when I was staying with Mark while getting work done on my own house. I’d show him the yarn as it was delivered and then pop it into my bedside locker drawer… but the drawer was suddenly full of yarn, and it not being my house made me more aware of it than if I was just at home. At his house I was just meant to have what I was using, any stash should’ve been at my house and now here I was developing two stashes!!!

The same happened with fabric, I’d just buy a piece or two… a few times and all of a sudden stash number 2 had apparently grown out of nowhere!!!

The online sewing community has been all about wardrobe creation the last couple of years and I would play along in my head, deciding what garment my wardrobe now needed, and then buying fabric for that specific new garment rather than looking at what I already had and then deciding what to make. I should also mention that this new garment that my wardrobe so desperately needed in priority to anything that could be made from what I already had wasn’t actually getting made, the fabric and patterns or magazine were just added to the rest. 

This is all the more galling to me when I do take the time to look at my fabrics and all I see are all the garments I had planned on making. Right from the start of my making I’ve always bought fabric with a specific plan in mind. I’ve a pile of wool that should have long ago been transformed into a winter coat, a blazer, a skirt for work and a top. I’ve a length of velvet that should be a biker style jacket. I’ve metres of technical fabric and race t-shirts that should be workout gear… I could go on and on!!

Time for action. Time to appreciate and use what I have.

So I finally wound one of my Skein Queen deliveries and had a super lovely experience knitting it up into a Colour Affection shawl that’s now ready for blocking. I have another one wound and ready for casting on a Diode Hat and a pair of socks started in one of the first Hedgehog deliveries. It feels great to be actually using this stuff and I know it’ll feel even better when I’m wearing it!

Do you read your wordpress annual report where they tell you how many busloads or aeroplanes of people your blog stats translate to? Well, my 2015 report announced to me I had published 5 posts. FIVE in 365 days! Ooops! Of course I knew I wasn’t blogging regularly due to the logistics of the year that was but I didn’t realise it was quite so few. I suppose posting makes and WIPs on instagram stopped me from feeling like I had completely disengaged. Anyway this year I plan to post at least once a month and hopefully more, we’ll see…

At the start of 2015 I had a new filofax to play with and I was taken with the idea of the bullet journal. I am also a list maker. So I laid out my 2015 sewing and knitting plans;

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I also kept a list of things I made in 2015…

1. Chevron Cowl for Mark
2. Raglan Office Dress
3. Renfrew Cowl Tee (Blue)
4. Bloomsbury Sweater
5. Green Wool Work Skirt
6. Echino Scooter Skirt
7. Test Ginger Pincord Trousers
8. Tailoring Class Jacket
9. Alder Dress (Aztec)
10. Alder Dress (Rayon)
11. Ginger Stretch Denim Jeans
12. Rockerfeller Shawl
13. Fantoosh Shawl (Small)
14. Alder Dress (Suiting)
15. Briar tee (Triangle)
16. Morris Blazer (Navy)
17. Morris Blazer (Grey)
18. Summer Vest (Triangle)
19. Summer Vest (Dots)
20. Swingy Dress
21. Archer Shirt (Modified)
22. Morris Blazer (Melbourne fabric)
23. Jasper Hoodie for me
24. Curiosa Socks
25. Jasper Hoodie for Jo
26. Kimono tee for Jo
27. Fantoosh Shawl (Big)
28. Japanese Single Gauze top
29. Kalajoki socks
30. Hootie Tootie for Ma
31. Joanna’s bag
32. FOMO tee for Mark
33. Maritime denim shorts

If you follow me on Instagram you’ve seen some of or all of these already. Out of the 4 little sketches I made the dress (no. 2 on the list) the other three are still wandering about in my head!

The handwritten list was pretty vague. Starting off with two jackets and a coat (the jacket from my class got made, and several Grainline Morris blazers but they weren’t actually what I was referring to), followed by mens shirts (epic fail, I owe my Dad 2 shirts from Christmas 2011 ) and some wardrobe categories; work, fit&active, and normal.

My work wardrobe is now at a place where I can get through the week, with options (so long as the laundry machine keeps rolling) and a big improvement is also that I can dress warmly for the ridiculously cold old building of an office that I work in. So work wardrobe was a win as far as I’m concerned.

Fit and active didn’t happen, either in terms of activity or the related clothing… Fail!

And normal wardrobe… the only thing I specifically wrote down was trousers. I no longer have any wearable RTW jeans. One pair no longer fits and the other is on the verge of disintegrating, the zip is broken and rips just appear out of nowhere. I used the Ginger jeans pattern and while I have a perfectly wearable pair of skinnies that I live in on weekends and other random non work days, I have some issues… more on that another day.

1 out of 3 on the knitting list (Bloomsbury) isn’t bad considering there were other knitted things made. The kneehighs are still on the list although I don’t have a good pair of boots to wear them under anymore, and the octopus sweater will need some serious swatching and calculating before I plunge into it.

So lots of making, some of it in very concentrated spurts of hyper productiveness, and little to no blogging pretty much sums it up. Here’s to 2016!

I started writing this post in the run up to Me Made May 2015 which I didn’t sign up to so it has been rolling around in my head of quite some time, but seeing as the first self stitched / me made challenge that I took part in was actually a Self Stitched September, it’s nice to be posting at an anniversary of sorts. 

I’d been mulling over Me Made May and whether to sign up and take part or not. I registered my blog on WordPress over 5 years ago and my first self stitched challenge was Self Stitched September 2010. I threw myself into the deep end in that one, pledging to wear all me mades (apart from underwear and sportswear). I wasn’t exactly prepared for that month and spent my time sewing clothes as required for wearing. They say doing something for a month forms a habit and following SSS10 I stopped shopping for clothes. That was just about 5 years ago now and in the intervening period I’ve taken part in Me Made March 2011, Me Made June 2011, Self Stitched September 2011, Me Made May 2013 and Me Made May 2014 (I think the gap in 2012 was due to clashing with exams)… that’s a lot of me made / self stitched challenges and the underlying pledge has always been that I wear all me mades / self stitched apart from underwear and sports wear. 

In the lead up to May this year I was questioning how to change this? I didn’t want to scale back from all me mades. It’s a great reminder of what 1 person can do when you notice that you are essentially clothing yourself for a month. I don’t like declarations that I will sew X amount of garments in Y amount of time. And I don’t like the mind set of “I should wear 30 different outfits” over the course of the challenge. In addition to this I replace my clothing as need dictates, not because I’ve set a new pledge, so the previous exemptions made sense to me because I would’ve been making for the sake of the challenge, despite having the same item ready to go but temporarily banned from use. 

I think mindfulness is really important in this day and age. The world is so huge and so busy consuming as much as possible and it’s easy to get overwhelmed . I want to live a good life,and by that I mean good to those around me, good to the environment, good to those who are affected by my choices… and it’s important to me that my wardrobe reflects these considerations. Making my own clothes allows me to control that to a certain extent because I can take not only the sweatshop out of the equation, but also the fast fashion element. 

Doing another me made challenge wasn’t a good fit for me this year, the habit is already formed and it felt a little bit contrived trying to come up with a way to make it a challenge. However I appreciated how much it made me think about it. I’ve also been thinking a lot about clutter and decluttering my life, more on that anon… 

   

  

  

   Well this is a very neglected corner of the internet isn’t it?! 

Due to my habit of snapping my life on my phone camera I know that I started this shawl on the 16th August 2014 and finished knitting on the 7th of February 2015, so it wasn’t a quick knit!!! The outdoor photos were taken aons ago as well. It turns out I was efficient about blocking and modelling as the photos were only 2 weeks after finishing…

The wool was a souvenir buy from Munich last July, and was really nice to knit with. I think it’s intended as a sock yarn and comes wound around a little spool of matching but lighter weight wool reinforcement yarn which I imagine would be handy not only for darning or repairs but also for seaming (if you had knitted something requiring seams!). I got it in Ludwig Beck beside the Marianplatz (and I made a return trip there again when I was back in Munich a couple of weeks ago).

I love getting wool or fabric as souvenirs, it’s like a gift that keeps on giving… I get to look for and browse in a foreign crafty shop, then I have the joy of making something, followed by the joy of wearing whatever it is I’ve made and every time I pick it up I remember my holiday or trip. In this instance Mark was working in Germany for a month and I went to visit him. We had a wonderful few days exploring Munich together and then I left my purchases with him to be carried home in his checked in luggage. So when he got home I had the additional excitement of opening up my new fabric and yarn! 

The shawl pattern is Rockerfeller by Stephen West. I think when it was originally released it was a mystery knit along but you can buy it as a normal PDF download pattern now. I first came across Westknits through Roobeedoo who went to a class with him a while back. Rockerfeller was fun to knit, although it did take me quite some time. The last section is done twice, one wing on either side of the shawl body and seemed to take forever… I was also sure I was going to run out  of yarn so I decreased sharper than the pattern calls for, but as you can see it’s a great big size. 

I’m away in the UK this weekend, starting in London before heading on out to Bath, so I engineered a little trip to Goldhawk Road into our agenda.
Firstly it’s equal parts overwhelming and exciting to spot the first fabric shop and then realise the they actually line both sides of the street and go further along than a little cluster outside the station. I went with a list (not specifics, just enough to give me something to work towards rather than spacing out and buying randomness) and in the first shop I asked for some prices and some tiny samples. Then we crossed the road and my eyes lost all sense of the list when I came across printed scuba knits and a sort of padded pre-interfaced-quilted fabric I’d never come across before. We wandered in and out of a few more shops before I announced I didn’t want to go to all the shops, much to Mark’s amusement. Then I found denim that I liked, with a small bit of stretch in a weight I’d be happy to use for jeans. This sort of settled me down and we went for lunch. Over the peace & quiet of lunch I mulled over what I had seen and made my decisions so that once we were fed we were able to simply go back to the two shops I had decided to buy stuff in.
I have two tips from my experience;
(1) If you have something in mind, ask! These guys know their stock. The shops can be quite cluttered but they’re happy to point you in the right direction, or even go to the exact spot to show you.
(2) Take a break. At the end of the day I’m super happy with my purchases, but I needed to leave, sit down and eat and think about it. Unless there’s obviously only a tiny bit left on the bolt, its unlikely anything is going to sell out in the time it takes to have lunch and consider potential purchases. Our decision to go get lunch may have been the smartest of the day!
So what did I buy?
2 metres demin for a pair of jeans
2 metres of the padded quilted stuff for a jacket
2 metres of a ribbed light sweater knit for a jumper for Mark
1.5 metres suiting for a dress for work
1.5 metres printed scubaknit for a dress for not at work!
And 1.5 metres of printed chiffony stuff for a flow-y top.
Happy out.

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