Monday, 4 July 2016

#togetherstronger - Wales rocks on

I do realise that for a blog about knitting and sewing there has been a surprisingly large amount of football going on in these parts. Well, I'm sorry but it is just too exciting. Friday night's historic, spectacular, [insert your own superlative here] win over Belgium means that Wales are the smallest county ever to reach the semi-finals of the European Championships.


I was so excited during last Friday's match that I wasn't able to carry on with my knitting. If I hadn't I probably would have finished my Euro socks by now. Although, truth be told I also half feel that to cast off the socks before Wales have finished their run might be unlucky. As a result my toes will remain cold for a little longer.

While my socks sit on the side-line, my brother's Welsh dragon's badge is in a front-row seat as he continues his tremendous odyssey around France. He, and my dad, are currently staying with K & M from Walks Weeks near Lyon, waiting for Wales' match against Portugal on Wednesday.

Now I'm off to get ready for the final of the Great British Sewing Bee ... just to prove there is still some crafting going on around here!

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Un, dau, tri ... Cymru am byth!

After my triumphant post the Saturday before last, the Welsh football team didn't do so well last week; letting in a last minute goal to give the win to England. But all was forgiven when yesterday they tonked Russia, three - nil. Triumphantly marching forwards to the knock-out stages, top of the group.

It is just as well really as I'm only halfway through my Euros sock project, and I need the boys to stay in for at least another three games to get the other one finished, or I'll be left with one cold foot!

In related news, the attentive reader will, I hope, be glad to hear that the Welsh dragon badge I made for my brother has appeared out of the postal vortex over the Irish sea and made it to him in time for the second and third match.

Roll on Saturday and the Parc des Princes. Cymru am byth!!!!

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Cymru am byth!

The European Football Championships kicked off yesterday in France, and for the first time in over 50 years Wales are at an international football championship. After years of supporting an unsuccessful team my brother and father are out in France with the Welsh supporters. I wanted to knit my brother something to show his support in France, but hats and scarfs are not really needed in the middle of summer in France. Instead I knitted him a little Welsh dragon badge for his bag. 

Unfortunately, it seems to have disappeared into a postal vortex in the Irish Sea. Hopefully it will appear before Wales' second match on Thursday. Talking about Wales' second match brings us to Wales' first match this afternoon. Crikey, I have just about recovered from a very tense and nervy 90 minutes, but Wales have the win! I'm so happy! Cymru am byth!

Watching the Euros creates a lot of knitting time, and I decided to give myself a dedicated Euro knitting project. Given that Dan's badge didn't take up much yarn I've decided to use the rest to knit a pair of Welsh Euro socks.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Not it's BatJan and Robin

Some readers may remember that last summer I made a couple of outfits for Bambo, the special friend of my friend's little boy, Jan, who had to go into hospital (details here). Since then Bambo's wardrobe had been growing with new tops from left over fabric scraps and an extremely fancy Father Christmas outfit. 

April saw Jan's birthday and I thought I'd make a superhero outfit for Bambo. When I told the boyfriend of my idea, he suggested one better - matching superhero outfits for Jan and Bambo.

I couldn't find a 'genuine' batman pattern, so I made do with a generic one from Simplicity. Although Jan was 4 this birthday, I went for the age 5 size so he would have plenty of growth room.  The fabric is some stretch black, with a bit of Lycra I think, which made it super easy to sew. The trousers are a simple design with an elasticated waistband, and the top has a back opening closed with velcro. I also used velcro to attach the cape to the shoulders. The only problem with the outfit was the gauntlet cuff, although I followed the pattern they turn out way to small. (Writing this post had also reminded me that I still have to remake these for Jan). 
Bambo's Robin outfit is made out of a couple of t-shirts from a charity shop, to my own design. I made Bambo a little cape too, but thought trousers were more suitable than Robin's traditional hot-pants! 

this was probably one of my most enjoyable sewing projects; plus Jan and Bambo seemed pretty happy with their superhero outfits when they unwrapped them. Indeed they accompanied my to the train station on my way home fully kitted out, which was a slightly surreal experience! 

I have a feeling that these two little heroes are going to get up to a lot of mischief!

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Parisian chic - new outfit

Following last weeks new top, I've now completed a whole new outfit. I'm quite pleased to have made an outfit, as I'm a bit prone to make separates from fabrics I like without thinking how they will work in my wardrobe. This time I've made trousers and a top which go together, and which I can combine with other items in my wardrobe, including my peacock top.

Want to see? Well you're going to have too!

The trousers are red needle cord (with a little stretch) made up in the City Trousers pattern from The Avid Seamstress, although that's not how they started out. Originally I made Colette's wide-leg Juniper trouser. I've used the pattern before and really liked the results, but this time they didn't fit and they didn't hang right. I'm not sure why, possibly the slight stretch in the fabric? As a result I wasn't loving the result, and I decided take radical action. The stretch in the cord seemed to call for a more fitted style, and a a search online found the city trouser. With a little bit of care I was about to cut down and restyle.

I forgot to take a picture of my trousers pre-model.

While I do like the finished trouser, I didn't like the instructions so much. I know the steps for making trousers well enough not to need instructions, but if one didn't they were not very clear. Plus, for many of the techniques (how to sew darts, or insert a zip) you are directed to their website for detailed directions. While I didn't need these further directions, I think I would have found it quite annoying if I did!

The top is Sewaholic's Alma Blouse made out of a charity shop bargain of fabric, so I'm not sure exactly what it is. I've had the pattern for ages and I'm glad I've finally made it as I love it. The combination of a side zip and darts gives a lovely  shape and a comfortable fit. I didn't have enough fabric to make binding for the arm holes, so I just hemmed them and it seems to have worked fine. As with the other Sewaholic patterns I've used, I found the instructions clear and the patterns well designed.  

I can certainly see myself using both patterns again, indeed I already have plans for another Alma blouse. As for the title, sadly I'm not off to Paris, but with the red, white and blue outfit and the name of the trouser pattern it seems appropriate!

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

First scout your peacock - a pattern review

I am possibly one of the last sewing blogger in the blogger-sphere to try out Grainline Studio's Scout Tee. (For those whose heads are buried even further in the sand than mine, Scout is a loose fitting tee made from woven rather than jersey fabric), Its not so much that I wasn't aware of the Scout pattern, I'd seen lots of versions online, I'd even had the pattern for a while, but I hadn't got round to trying it.

Earlier in the year, when looking for a quick sewing fix, I thought I would give it ago. I had just enough peacock fabric left over from this dress, and I thought it might work well. I flew through the construction of the top which is very simple, and that was very satisfying. However, I made a mess of attaching the neck binding, and put the project aside in a huff. 

Last Friday evening, while tidying up my sewing room, I unearthed the incomplete top from the bottom of a pile of half finished projects and items in need of fixing. Deciding that I had gone so far with the project that I ought to finish it, I did.

I have to be honest I wasn't completely convinced with the top when I'd finished. But I wore it round to a friends on Sunday and she reassure me.  

I didn't make any changes to the pattern, and the instructions were very clear. However, if I were to make it again I would probably make the top a little bit longer. I did the narrowest hem I could manage but I still think that it could be a longer. I would also probably use a fabric with a bit more drape in it. The peacock fabric is an African waxed one, and it is on the stiffer side.

Will I make it again, with this changes? Yes, I I think I might. It is a very easy and quick pattern, so very satisfying. Plus, it uses only a small amount of fabric so a good way to use up odd pieces in my stash. Plus, as this version show, it can take a bold print and as my stash shows I do like a bold print.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Making the most of loose ends

At the start of the year I made a resolution to reduce the size of my stash. Nearly half way into the year I have been making some progress. Although as lovely people keep giving me lovely yarn, I'm not showing as much overall progress as I might.

One of the things I find very hard to do is throw out odd balls, or ends of balls, left over from bigger projects. As any knitter will know these can linger unloved in a stash, for a long time. To avoid this happening I've been trying to use up the left over yarn from larger projects straight away. 

After finishing my Rialto quince cardigan in March, I whipped through a series of baby knits. Always useful to have some of these in stock as my friends all seem to be breeding like the proverbial rabbits ;-) 

When I finished my Ravello jumper last month I was left with 2 full skeins of emerald alpaca silk, much too much, and too nice, to go for baby clothes. A quick search of my pattern books turned up Deco City a beautiful shawl pattern, needed exactly the amount of yarn I had, perfect.

The pattern of the shawl looks deceptively difficult, its really fairly simple, and knitted up in no time. Even better, when I'd finished, I had such a small amount of yarn left I didn't feel bad about throwing it out :)

I decided to gift the shawl to my mum for her birthday (which was yesterday). Mum taught me to knit, and our interest in knitting, sewing and other crafts is something I love being able to share with her. Although I regularly knit gifts for my dad and brother, I don't very often knit for my mum. I tend to give her yarn, so she can have the enjoyment of knitting it up herself. It was a real pleasure to knit this for her, Happy Birthday Mum!

Now I'm off to watch the first episode of the latest series of the Great British Sewing Bee - so excited!