Tuesday, 26 November 2013

A cautionary tale of woe

Oh my goodness, what a week!  Do you ever have one of those weeks where you suddenly realise it's 7 days later than when you last noted the date, but you've got no idea what happened in that time?  It's just been a wirlwind of work and sleep and work and sleep, it's been a craft-poor week that's for sure.


I've got several projects to share with you but need to wait until I'm home in daylight to take photos.  So you might get to see them sometime next March.  In the meantime, here's an oldie from the summer that I finally got round to fixing so I can use it.  Do you ever have those Guilt Pile projects that sit there for months (sometimes years) before you get round to fixing them, at which point it only takes you 10 minutes and you wonder why you've been putting it off for so long?  This was one of them.


It all started with a t-shirt my brother gave me years ago.  As a science geek, I love it, but I never wear black and it was that super-tight, super-short, '90s style t-shirt that's not really my scene.  So it languished in a drawer for a while until I decided to sew the design onto a tote.  I got a free tote bag from a wedding fair, emblazoned with a dentist logo of all things, and decided to cut it out and stitch it on.  Simple, no?


I did it all properly, with iron-on interfacing for stablising the jersey fabric and made sure to make it as square as possible.  I was really pleased with how it turned out.  Then I washed it and the jersey shrank at a different rate to the tote bag (this is why we pre-wash things, I see now), leaving me with unattractive puckers in the corners of the design.  If there's one thing Darwin hated, it was unattractive puckers.


So, it's sat in my Guilt Pile for the past 6 months, until I finally unpicked the design, ironed it, ironed the bag and resewed in back on.  And now it's usable!  10 minutes of work and I could have had a bag 6 months ago.


So much better!  Not a pucker in sight.

So, listen to my cautionary tale of woe dear readers:

1. Don't procrastinate!

2. Pre-wash your fabrics before sewing!

3. Get a nice job with a good work-life balance that allows plenty of time for sewing.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to go give a dog an enema.  Glamour!

Monday, 18 November 2013

Handknit gloves & hats giveaway!

Remember 10 days ago, when I teased you guys with talk of a knitwear giveaway?  Well, it's finally here!


Inspired by the lovely Handmade Jane, who hosted her own giveaway back in May to gift her hand sewn clothing onto appreciative sewists all around the world, I decided to follow suit.  We've all been there, made ourselves lovely things that end up not fitting quite right or not matching anything in our wardrobe.  They languish in drawers, making us feel guilty for the amount of time and effort that went into them, the money spent on beautiful wool or patterns, only to never see the light of day.

Well, no more I say!

I'm paying forward my Banksia top win and passing on some of my handknit possessions to people I hope will appreciate and use them more than I have.  Disclaimer: those items made by me (not all are, though they all are handmade) are made to the best of my ability as an amateur craftsperson.  They are not perfect but they are functional.  And lets face it, if you win, you're getting it for free so shut up already about the missed cables!

Onto the spoils...

1.  Long purple cabled fingerless gloves.  These are looooong (approximately 38cm long in fact) and made from acrylic DK.  They've been worn a few times and washed.  They're a small size for folk with slimmer arms (there's not much stretch in them).  Yes, one is slightly longer than the other, what of it?



2.  New Lanark grey aran wool headband/earwarmers.  Widens at the back to go over your ears.  Measures 58cm around, 8cm at the thinnest point and 10cm at the widest.

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3.  Wool bobble hat.  Pretty much as it says on the tin.  Average size, with some stretch.


4.  Acrylic cream beanie.  Again, the clue is in the title.  Average size, with some stretch.


5.  Not-made-by-me fingerless gloves.  These are handknit and I would guess in acrylic or manmade fibre.  Average size, with some stretch.


6.  Tweed gloves with red tips (Andrew calls these 'Penis Gloves').  I made these for myself for this winter and they're too big so I have cold hands.  Sad face.  But my loss is your gain.  Would suit a guy, though comes with the warning that one thumb is slightly smaller than the other.


The rules!

1.  Link to my blog somewhere on t'interwebz to enter.  You can link to me from your facebook, twitter, instagram, blog...I don't mind.  I'm not too proud to say I want to boost my reader stats.  Don't hate.

2.  Comment on this post to tell me which you want to win!  You're welcome to enter for more than one, just link back the appropriate number of times.

3.  If your contact details aren't easily found, leave your email in your comment.

4.  The giveaway is open worldwide!

I will pick winners using a random number generator on December 6th!  Good luck you guys!

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Purple polka dot sorbetto top

This is my second Sorbetto top but my first for myself.  The first was for my friend Victoria and I still have enough of that material left to make a matching one for myself.  I can't decide if that's tragic or not but I might just do it anyway, I love teal.  The Sorbetto, for those not in the know, is the awesome free pattern from Colette Patterns.  It's super simple, so perfect for beginners and you download and stick it together at home, meaning when you inevitably balls up the cutting out part as I did, you can just download another!


I'm really pleased with how this one turned out, despite a few hiccups along the way.  Practice makes perfect right?  I love the fabric, it's some kind of synthetic material that I bought with Vicky from Walthamstow market in London, but it's nicely drapey and easy to iron so is perfect for a beginner.  It's a nice shade of purple that matches a lot of my clothes, though sadly not any of my cardigans.  Ah well, I've been needing an excuse to thrift some new-to-me cardies and I've accrued £10 credit at my local Salvation Army for donating enough unwanted stuff (£2 credit per bag!) so I feel a charity shopping spree on the horizon.


When I make my next (possibly teal) Sorbetto, I'm going to add a couple of inches to the length.  This one is just a bit too short for my comfort, I feel like if I reach up I'm going to expose my wine-induced love handles.  Also, the Instagram close up of my boob that some of you may already have seen if you follow me over there, shows some dire thread matching in the dartage area.  In fact, completely non-existent thread matching, that shit is just plain white.  So next time, I will thread match properly/at all.


Overall though, a success!  I've worn it several times since making it and not yet been asked if I made it, which I always take to mean people wouldn't expect it to be handmade.  Maybe I'm just being hopeful here, maybe it's so OBVIOUSLY handmade that people are too embarrassed to comment.  Who cares, I like it!

Friday, 8 November 2013

Banksia top from Handmade Jane and knitwear giveaway teaser...

Months ago, I won a giveaway hosted by the lovely Handmade Jane. She writes a blog about sewing clothes for herself (and occasionally her son) and has adorable style, think polka dots and vintage and chintz.  She dreamed up the giveaway as a way of clearing out some of her unloved, unworn handmade items of clothing, in a bid to spring clean her wardrobe.  You can check out the other items up for grabs over here, as you can see there were some delights looking for new homes!


I entered for the Banksia top, I loved the floral pattern and the fact that it started life as a pair of curtains (we're all about refashioning over here!).  To my surprise, I won!  I've never won an internet giveaway before so I was delighted!  You can see Jane's original post about the top over here, she claims it to be inspired by the Von Trapp family in it's recycling roots but I reckon it's way more stylish than that. So stylish in fact, I wore it to our recent engagament photoshoot!


See anything you recognise...? 

It fits really nicely, it's slightly too big all over but I quite like it that way, I don't normally go for 'boyfriend' type fit since it can drown what little figure I own, but there's something comfortable yet still flattering about the fit of this little number.


Jane is definitely leagues ahead of me in the sewing stakes, this baby has a button down front and a placket (WTF is a placket already?!) and facings and all kinds of technical words that make me reach for the gin.  It certainly doesn't look handmade until you look closely.


I thought the spring clean idea was a such a lovely one, what better way to honour your unloved handmade clothes than by giving them away to other craftsters?  People who will admire the smallest details and appreciate the time and effort that went into every stitch.  I was so inspired that I thought I would pay it forward and host my own little giveaway, this time of knitwear!


Just a little teaser

I've knit so many hats and gloves over the years, there's really no way one person could ever wear them all and so I've had a sort out and come up with 5 warm woolies that will be looking for a new home in the coming weeks.  Watch this space if you need a new hat or gloves this winter!

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Fairisle cardigan plans

I thrifted this fairisle cardigan from a vintage fair in Edinburgh a few years back and have worn it TO DEATH.  It's such a lovely teal blue colour and I love the colourwork that runs around the yoke.  I've always had a soft spot for fairisle but have never actually knitted anything of the style for myself.


There were always issues with this cardi though, and now that it's died a death (to be resurrected as a cushion cover I think), it's time to knit the perfect one for myself.  This one actually started out too big, it was clearly a handknit and had several major design flaws that I tried to rectify in my own, ham-fisted way.

I started off by trying to shrink it in the wash, which made the wool fluff up really nicely (it was a bit loose previously, I think the original craftsperson had too loose tension) but failed to fix the box-like waist.  So I sewed in some darts....


Good from the outside...


Not so good from the inside.

On top of this, felting it caused a few holes to form


And some stitching to come loose around the neckline.


The buttons were also too small for the buttonholes, meaning it came open a lot.  I put up with all this for years though, how great was my love for this cardigan.  I love wearing vintage handknits, knowing that someone at some point in time put a huge amount of love and work into this piece of clothing, which ultimately ended up in a charity shop or vintage sale.  Maybe it was an unloved gift or cleared from the home of someone who passed away.  Maybe it was knitted for that person but didn't fit, or they didn't have anything to go with it.  Whatever the reason, I love feeling like I've rescued it, cleaned it up, fixed up the damage (although in this case caused some of my own...) and given it a new lease of life.

Teal cardigan, I salute you.

I've got a few knitting projects queued up at the moment but a fairisle cardigan has just made it onto the list as a replacement is desperately needed.  Here are a few I'm contemplating, via my Ravelry and Pintrest (feel free to add me on either, Craftandthrift on both!).

Strokkur by Ysolda Teague.  I love the look of Icelandic sweaters and this one has a nice neckline that's not too high and choking.  Plus I've only knitted one Ysola pattern so far and it was a nice, easy knit, nicely designed.

Continuing the Ysolda theme, Chikadee has also caught my eye.  I like that it's a cardigan, I need more of them in my wardrobe since a couple are on their way out and I don't have any winter approprate ones besides the aforementioned Coraline.  I'm a bit worried that the birds might be a bit twee though.

Another Icelandic knit on Ravelry, Aftur is a genuine Icelandic pattern, written in Finnish, Icelandic and English.  Seems to have got good reviews on Ravelry and if 247 people have managed it then hopefully I can too!

The last one I'm contemplating is Paper Dolls by Kate Davies.  Having completed 2 owls sweaters (here and here) and another one in the works for me, I'm a big fan of Kate.  Again though, bit worried the dolls might be a bit on the twee side.

This is my first time using Pinterest's new widget builder as well and can I just say, I HATE IT.  WAY more difficult to use that the last one (which you could adjust the width as well, meaning you didn't end up with these stupid little pins floating around in the middle of nowhere).  Bring back the old embed function Pinterest!