on the sewvember bandwagon

After a few days of umming and ahhing, last Sunday I jumped onto the Sewvember bandwagon. Other people were doing it. It looked fun. I like to sew. More importantly I like to buy fabric to sew, but sometimes I need a little kick up the bum to actually sew it. The chance to sew along with other clever crafty folk, remotely and hopefully together too, was too good an opportunity. So I’m in. Yay!

I am aiming to make something each week in November. Mostly clothing for me, but I have a quilt that needs finishing and plans for a bag too so we’ll see where thing take me. I’m not on twitter but I’ll be documenting my efforts here and on Instagram #sewvember. It’s going to be fun!

Sew (heh this is going to get old quick), on that note, here is my first completed project…

little red top

little red top

I drafted a pattern from another top, long since worn out but I loved the shape and neckline, so I kept it with the thought that one day I’d try and make another. And on Monday night, I finally did just that.

The red jersey fabric came from Cabramatta, purchased during a fun day out, complete with great Vietnamese lunch and fabulous company. It’s lovely to wear, light and drapey. Those features made it a challenge to sew though. It seems obvious, but jersey stretches (duh!), and no matter how carefully I pinned it kept shifting around. And unpicking the stretch stitch on my sewing maching was not fun! But I am happy with how my top came out, and today I braved downtown Parramatta at lunchtime to find some black jersey for another one.

I know, its green.

I know, its green. I am sew predictable.

My next project will be a skirt in this pretty green fabric. I had plans for a circle skirt but ha ha I don’t have enough, so perhaps a half circle will have to do. On the plus side there is probably less chance of a Marilyn moment on a windy day. Which is a good thing; I really don’t have her legs!

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untitled

My life has been kind of busy lately, busier than usual anyhow and too busy to think of a good title for this post.  We’ve been doing some minor renovation work at the back of the house, so there has been a stream of tradies and lots of time off work.  Luckily it coincided with me finally reducing my working hours to three days per week (ha, it only took  five months!).  I’m feeling really really good about that, especially as the guys are still in daycare four days, for a few more weeks at least.  We finally got their school enrollments finalised for next year.  And we’ve had more birthdays, two of them in fact.  My babies are five and I’m a bit shell-shocked.  How did that happen?  It seems like only last week they were so tiny…

chicken legs!

chicken legs!

Anyhow there has been a party, cake and too many presents.  Our house resembles a toy shop and I’m feeling a bit guilty at how much stuff they have.  We tried to keep it simple; from us they received bikes and helmets, a game to play together, some books and the obligatory handmade thing, this time new summer pyjamas.  But the party was a big deal with a lot of preschool friends, and they all came bearing presents, some of which were far too generous.  The Sam and Archie were appreciative, but I was a bit embarrassed.  The party was fun though.  We went with a sports theme, and hired a pair of sport billies to run games.  And there was cake.  The guys had a blast, and it wasn’t too stressful for us either.  Everybody wins.

balls!

balls!

burning off some sugar

burning off some sugar

Anyhow, all this time off has meant lots of sewing time, precious daylight sewing time without the boys around.  And I’ve been making the most of it!

First up, the boys pyjamas…  I have always avoided dressing the twins indentically; its just wrong, they’re different people with different personalities, and people tend to have enough trouble differentiating between them as it is, even though they do look quite different.  But they are also brothers who tend to want what the other one has.  My solution is usually same same but different, and mostly it works pretty well.  And there is something pretty cute about three little boys in coordinating pyjamas!

rocking the bed head look

rocking the bed head look

Ollie got some too.  They should have been a birthday present for him as well but I wasn’t organised to make them in time for his birthday!

Its definitely birthday season here; my niece Flossie turned one and I made her a tee.

Flossie's tee

Flossie’s tee

 And we’ve got another party tomorrow, for a Mamma’s group buddie.  I made Edie pyjammies too, but I’m not sure about these.  I was trying something different but I made the cuffs a little bit tight.  I’ll have to fix them tonight, but I’m not sure whether to just hem them or redo the cuffs… are they a bit much?

girlie alert!

girlie alert!

too much?!

too much?!

And in case anyone was worried, you won’t need to kick me out of the knitting club just yet.  There has been knitting, but endless stockinette is not very exciting to do or write about.  Being back in the project office and the longer commute is helping though, and there has been progress.

awkward self portrait

awkward self portrait

I’m not sure what to do with the edgings.  The pattern has a few rows of rib at the sleeve and bottom, a basic pick up-bind off row at the neck and the front edges are left as is.  I am thinking of taking the ribbing all the way around to finish it off, or maybe even a little picot edge.  Or is that too fussy for such a simple thing?  It’s too hot today and I can’t decide.  I think I need ice cream…

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weekend sewing

For a while now I’ve been planning a couple of little sewing projects.  This weekend I finally stopped procrastinating and just did them.

On Saturday, I made a skirt for me.  From start to finish.  Drafting the pattern and everything.  I keep buying fabric with skirts in mind, but have been really nervous about drafting my own pattern, even with a great reference book to hand.  But really it was simple… four measurements, some simple maths and hey presto, I’ve got a pattern for an a-line skirt!  For about 5 seconds I thought about making a muslin, but really the denim fabric I used was so cheap I just jumped right in.  Some tweaking was required, and its still not 100% right, but I now have a totally wearable skirt.  So wearable I wore it yesterday!

my new skirt!

my new skirt!

I kept it simple; no pockets, just a back zipper and some pre-made bias binding around the waist edge (you can’t see it here but its red/white striped!).  I thought about attempting a facing at the waist but the denim is so sturdy I was wary of adding extra bulk, especially around the zipper.  Maybe next time.  I’ll add pockets too, and maybe some buttons because, you know, I like buttons.

Sunday morning Ollie had swimming, and while he was out I took the opportunity to do some big boy craft with the big boys.  I saw this tutorial a while ago, and thought it looked like fun.  And it was.  One day we’ll try the cushion idea in the tutorial, but for this time I had some plain singlets that needed customising…

First, Sam and Archie workshopped their designs.  It was a dinosaur kind of day.

gettting the design right is sooo important

gettting the design right is sooo important

Then they picked some fun fabrics, and I ironed the special adhesive stuff on the back.

supplies

supplies

Next they got to play with scissors, cutting out the shapes. 

snip snip snip

snip snip snip

A bit of stitching around the outside and some buttons and they’re nearly done!

done!

nearly done…

Archie and Sam were so proud of their cool new singlets, and I am so proud of my clever creative boys! 

ready to wear

ready to wear!

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ollie is three!

On Sunday, my baby boy turned three!

test driving the new scooter

test driving the new scooter

Everytime I look at him I wonder where the time is going.  How did he get so BIG?  He’s two years younger than his brothers, but some days its like having triplets…  the three of them are so tight, he’s just a bit shorter, thats all.

checking the brakes work

checking the brakes work

Of course it wouldn’t be a birthday without something handmade by Mum…  This time it was another little manbag.  The last few times the twins have used theirs Ollie’s asked about his, so here it is.  With robots this time (of course). 

rocking the manbag

rocking the manbag

Inside was some coloured pencils, a notepad, a little car and a book.  Everything a little guy needs for a day out. 

so whats in your bag?

so whats in your bag?

Ollie got three books for his birthday this year, and unwittingly all featured knitting in some form.  The Knitting Gorilla is (obviously) about a gorilla who knits.  Too Cold for a Tutu is particularly charming, the central characters are knitted dogs called Barry and Stella, and all the clothes and props are handknitted or sewn.  Very sweet.  But the third book surprised me (I didn’t read all the way through in the bookshop!). On that farm there was a goat (e-i-e-i-o) who knitted coats for all the goats.  And ran knitting classes too!

subversive knitting propaganda

subversive knitting propaganda

Happy happy birthday to the squishiest, snuggliest, most affectionate little guy.  We love you Ollie x

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knitting and me

I’m a knitter.  I knit.  I knit on the train, I’d knit on a plane.  In a house or with a mouse.  I knit big things and small things and things in-between.  I almost always have a project in progress, and when I don’t I’m anxious, like the world isn’t quite right.  I like to sew too, and there is often sewing going on, but usually I decide to make something, I make it, then the sewing machine gets put a way for a bit.  There is always knitting.  But why?

pretty yarny goodness

pretty yarny goodness

Is it the yarn?  Why DO I get so enthused by yarn?  I love soft squooshy merino and honest authentic shetland yarn.   Buttery soft alpaca too.  And silk makes everything better.  I’m a complete yarn snob, almost never knitting with acrylic yarn.  I have too much yarn already, I could probably knit for years with the yarn I already have stashed away, and yet I know I will buy more.  Pretty, pretty yarn.  Yarn is definitely part of the knitting story for me.

engineering in progress

engineering in progress

Is it a right-brain/left brain thing?  Maybe.  I’m an engineer, I work at a computer all day, dealing with facts and numbers and mathematical-based concepts.  There isn’t much room for creativity (although it is there, if you look hard enough).  Knitting is tactile.  Its organic.  I still get to use my maths, and having a mathematical brain is probably beneficial in picturing how a project will be constructed.  But really its just so good to do something creative, to make something with my hands. 

handknits in action

handknits in action

Is it the finished product?  I try to knit things relatively practical things for myself and others that will actually get used.  Which doesn’t mean they can’t be fancy or pretty.  But its important to me that things are worn rather than left in a drawer, and I do wear most of my handknits. 

Is it the process?  One stitch then another and another and another.  Like breathing.  So easy to get lost in that process; garter stitch is the closest I come to meditation.  I’m sure just thinking about knitting brings my heart rate down. 

knitting in the pub!

knitting in the pub!

Or is it other knitters?  Definitely.  Yesterday I caught up with some of the best knitting peeps ever.  There was lunch, wine, cider, hot chocolate mousse and lots of talk about life, the universe and knitting.  I feel so lucky to be able to count such an amazing group of knitters as friends.  And as someone who can be shy and awkward and doesn’t make friends easily, that is a big deal.  Knitters are definitely a big part of why I love knitting so much.  Yay knitters, you rock!

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i’ve been inflicting handmade stuff on people. again.

I like making stuff, and I like giving handmade presents.  Sometimes I wonder if I’ll know when its time to stop inflicting my handmade stuff on people…  but anyway, for the last few years, I’ve tried to make something as part of my friend Charmaine’s birthday present.  Last year I made her a bag…

Charmaine's bag

Charmaine’s bag

I also made her a little project bag for Christmas the year before that.  While a knitter can never have enough project bags, I figured I’d inflicted enough handmade bags on her for now, so this year she scored this:

this years birthday present

this years birthday present

Its a needle roll, specifically a double-pointed needle roll! 

unrolled

unrolled

How cute is that fabric?!  Its hand screen-printed linen that I found on Etsy.  And the spotty print matches the colour perfectly.  I used the same construction techniques as the matchbox car cozies I made last year, which were based on this tutorial

with needles!

with needles!

I’m really really happy with how it turned out, and may have to make one for myself soon.

And I think Charmaine liked it.  She certainly did a good job of pretending if she didn’t!  I just hope she tells me when its time to stop inflicting my handmade crap on her…

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drifting

After all the indecision over what to knit with my beautiful green Spud and Chloe, I eventually settled on this:

Image from Ravelry

Its Drifting by Cecily Glowik MacDonald.  It fits my brief perfectly: cute, simple,  lightweight.  Perfect for spring.  And after some initial issues with the pattern (more on that later) it was drifting along beautifully.  Until I realised I can’t count. In my attempt to resolve my pattern issues I adjusted the number of cast on stitches, and somehow managed to add an extra 10.  Oops.  Worse still I only noticed last night, when it was time to separate the sleeves.  I am such an idiot.  Ho hum.  There will be frogging tonight…

too much drifting

too much drifting

My issues with pattern?  It’s just plain lazy.  The raglan increases are not paired and there’s a single m1 fudge before the final ribbing to get an odd number, when it would have been simple to use an odd number for the back of the cardigan in the first place.  I would probably be more understanding if it was a freebie, but I expected better from a pattern I paid for, even if it was just $6US.   

ok at my neat increases!

look at my neat increases!

The increases were a revelation though.  They’re created by knitting into the stitch below. I’ve never used the technique before, and it took some jiggling to work out a mirrored version to satisfy my desire for symmetry, but I’m so glad I didn’t just abandon it in favour of the usual m1 l/r.

And some sewing, because my guys went to a birthday party last weekend and I leapt at the chance to make something girly for a change. 

birdie tee

birdie tee

Technical difficulties with sewing machine (I broke my last needle!) meant I had to hand stitch the applique, but with a glass of red and Richard Roxbough on the telly it was pretty painless.  And so so satisfying.

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