Friday, July 03, 2015

Lightning Strike

Hi there!

Just a fly past post to let you know that my Broadband Hub was struck by lightning the other night (loud bang, flames out of the socket - eek!) and as a result I will not be able to blog until I get it fixed.

I have just taught my phone how to connect to work's wifi so I can show you my new shoes and socks-in-progress on Instagram - exciting!  I am theroobeedoo if want to follow me there.

Hopefully I'll be back soon with a whole heap of sewing and knitting!


Sunday, June 28, 2015

FO: Brumby Skirt by Megan Nielsen in Denim

Hello again!
Another day, another finished sewing project - hooray for holidays at home!
I swooped upon this skirt pattern the day it was released.
I had been looking out for a midi-length style that didn't scream "frumpy middle-aged woman stuck in a time-warp" and hopefully this is it.
Though I must admit that the thick black tights and brogues might be a little bit Maria Von Trapp with this hemline.
I reckon I need a pair of funky clogs ;)

One of the best things about this pattern is the humongous pocketty goodness.

They are deep enough to hold a bottle or two of wine, or a couple of kittens, if you prefer!

Definitely Roo-pockets...  for those of us with marsupial tendencies :)

The other great thing about this skirt is the shaped waistband.

Unlike the band on the Kelly Skirt, this one delivers a high fitted shape while allowing you to breathe.

And the gathers fall low enough to flatter.
In this fine lightweight denim, I do not feel they give the wearer a balloon at the tummy or hips.
I would hesitate to make it in a heavier fabric though.

And don't forget the exposed zip feature :)
I do enjoy a good set of metal teeth!
The instructions for this one were really clear and helpful.


Pattern:  The Brumby Skirt by Megan Nielsen.  I bought the paper pattern from Backstitch in the UK, but it is also available as a downloadable pdf.  I made size Small and it came out a perfect fit, straight from the packet - hooray!

Fabric:  2.5 metres of 5oz dress-weight denim from Merchant and Mills.  It is only £6.75 per metre, and also comes in black.  I was initially a bit dubious about the quality of this fabric, as it felt very crisp and dry, even after a pre-wash.  However, it softened up a lot as I worked with it, and it irons really well.  It is definitely a good choice for this pattern, as it takes the gathers and holds them nicely.


I am pretty sure this is going to be a wardrobe staple, taking the place of my much-loved dark denim Kelly Skirt, which feels a bit too short and tight around the middle these days.

I am wearing it here with my Portfolio top and it feels like a good match.  The skirt pockets remind me a lot of the ones in my Portfolio dress, but even bigger - woo hoo!  I wore the dress yesterday - it is still going strong and makes me happy after 4 years.  I hope this skirt will have the same sort of longevity!

Will I make it again?
I have a terrible longing to use my stashed Little Red Riding Hood-print fabric.. and maybe even adapt it into a dress by adding a bodice?
Eek!  Novelty prints strike again!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

FO: A Seer-iously Summery Maya Shirt Dress

Now I have my sewing machine to myself again, you would think I would be stitching up a storm.
But it has been so grey and cold around here that I couldn't quite bring myself to crack out the summer cottons.
I had to give myself a severe talking-to.
A whole week at home, with no obligations on my time?
Get to it, Roo!

OK... but I'm not taking my cardigan off.
Side view.

Back view.
What do you mean you can't see my dress?
OK - take this will you?

I made another Maya Dress.
This one is in a very fine, soft seersucker.
I am wearing my Cali Faye BASICS.tank underneath, as otherwise you would see my underpinnings.

It is definitely more of a shirt than a dress, this time around.

I made fully-functioning buttonholes so I can undo them for extra stride-power.
There are two hip-level pockets for additional slouch-appeal.  The stripes would have matched if I hadn't sewn them on inside out :)

I also added super-thin ties at the back to add a little shape without wearing a belt.
I regret that I sewed them in a couple of inches lower than planned, which works well with a cardigan on top, but makes me look like Shrek from behind when I take it off.
I suppose you need to see that...?

Pattern:  Maya Dress by Marilla Walker in size 2.

Fabric: 1.5 metres of seersucker from Croft Mill  at £7.50 a metre.

Other:  7 vintage buttons from the local charity shop (10 for 70p); home-made white bias binding leftover from my Bantam Top for the ties; thread.


Apart from the tie-back issue, I love it.
And I am not attempting to remove them because they are buried in my beautiful French seams!
To be honest, I don't expect to take my cardigan off very often, so my inner Shrek-ness can remain a secret... between me and the world wide web!

Am I done with the Maya pattern yet?
It doesn't seem so!
I still want to make the plain-fronted top (no buttons) and have my eye on some Liberty print that would be perfect.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

FO: Swedish Spring Cabbage Shawl

Ah yes - more romantic pictures of the compost bin!

I finished and blocked my Swedish Spring Shawl while The Girl was here.

She went home on Sunday, so I had to rely on my trusty garden wall and the self-timer to take these photographs.

I chose to knit the large version and as a result ran out of yarn mid-way along the bind-off, despite missing out the last 4 rows of the edging.

This is my own fault - I should have seen it coming.

But I was determined to make the most of the beautiful plant-dyed yarn from Gregoria Fibers.
It was dyed using red cabbages.
Red cabbages! :)

I used a few yards of light grey sock wool to finish the bind-off from the mid-point.
I rather like the way it underscores the edge.

And let's face it, I wasn't about to rip it back at that stage.


Pattern:  Swedish Spring Shawl by Maria Montzka

Yarn:  Red cabbage hand-dyed sock yarn, 75% merino, 25% nylon, 459 yards for 100g from Gregoria Fibers in Germany.

Needles:  4mm (US 6) Knit Pro Spectra interchangeables.

A very smooth knit once I understood how the chart repeat worked.
I absolutely loved the subtle colouring of the plant-dyed wool.
I could happily have kept knitting on it forever... which is how I ran out of yarn!

I am not usually drawn to pastel colours, but this is rather special.
The finished shawl is big and drapey and soft and lacy.
Good enough for a party but simple enough to wear every day.
I love it!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Sewing with The Girl

This week, my daughter came back to Scotland for a holiday.
We had planned in advance that she would so some sewing while she was here, and I tested a couple of vest top patterns on her behalf.
She tried on my Bantam Top and my Cali Faye BASICS.tank... backwards.
And she decided that she preferred the front of the Cali Faye as a scoop-necked flared back, matched with the front of the Bantam Top.
So we drafted a mash-up pattern, blending the two together at the shoulders and underarms.
Because we are fearless... 

The fabric is a lovely Merchant and Mills linen in scuttle black, bought from Ray Stitch.
I wanted her to make a garment to be proud of, so supervised her first ever French seams and DIY bias binding.
Thanks to a helpful reader of this blog, we were directed to a tutorial on how to fit bias binding to curved seams perfectly - hooray!

It took longer than she had expected, but the result is definitely worth it.
The scrumpley linen suits her style and will be lovely and cool in the much-warmer south.

She also hoped to make a tee shirt.
I didn't have a pattern to suit.  She wanted it to be just like her favourite Forever 21 tee, but a little bit longer.
So we traced the old top, and created our own pattern from it.
The fabric for this one is from The Village Haberdashery.
I don't have a serger, so she learned how to change the stitch on my Bernina to the "vari-overlock" to put this one together.
A knit lesson!

Two successful sewing projects - phew!
I am sending her home with my copy of "Sew U Home Stretch" and the promise of a sewing machine.  Her granny has suggested she could have her old machine, which has lain in a cupboard unused for years... we just need to work out how to get it to London.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Wednesday WIPs with Myeloma

It's been a while since I managed to coincide a catch-up post with WIP Wednesday - anyone would think I planned it!

It has been birthday season here:  Grandma (90), FL (80) and The Girl (19).  The only one to receive a hand-knitted gift was Grandma, who fell heir to a pair of socks from my gifting box.  Will she wear them?  Unlikely.  But I never know what to get her and if nothing else she can show her sister my knitting.

I took FL out for a meal at a favourite South Indian restaurant.  He has not finished a meal in weeks, so it was good to see him make a valiant attempt for his birthday.  I bought him a gooseberry bush because that was what he wanted. No socks this year!

The Girl arrived on Monday and we have some sewing planned.  After some debate, she decided she wants a Bantam Top front with a Cali Faye BASICS.tank front as the back... so I did some redrafting to make sure the pieces will fit together at the shoulders and side seams.  I hope it works!

Yesterday was FL's regular hospital appointment.  We saw the lovely Italian doctor and she was very straightforward, as usual.  His Freelite number is up to 148 from 80 the previous month.  This is a significant rise.  If the blood test from this week shows a further rise, they will have to reconsider his prescription for Pomalidamide.  If it is a dramatic rise (and when the number rises, it tends to do it on a half-life-type curve) they will call him in for a review before his next appointment.

How is he?  It is difficult to tell whether it is the Myeloma or the shingles that is laying him low.  He is in a great deal of pain, but it appears to be located in the right upper arm, close to the site of the shingles.  His blisters are almost completely healed.  The doctor explained that shingles pain can last for a year.  A year!  FL said he could not possibly survive his much pain for that long.  It would appear that he is on the standard pain relief regime, so he just has to keep taking the tablets.

He is asleep right now.  He says he only gets peace from the pain if he is asleep.  As a result, his writing has ground to a halt and he has stopped going into the local town to see his friends and buy the newspaper.  This is totally out of character.

The good news is that I am on holiday from work for two weeks:  this week and next.  So I am able to watch over him and keep him company.  I have until 10 July to apply for Voluntary Severance and it is a decision I need to take very seriously.  I might not be successful if I apply, but it could be a good option to allow me to be at home with him when he needs me.

In knitting news, the Swedish Spring Shawl is almost complete  I love the cabbage-dyed yarn from Gregoria Fibers!  Although it is a basic (75% wool, 25% nylon) sock yarn it has a slight halo and I think it is going to bloom beautifully after a wash.  The colour is simply lovely.

I have been so besotted with this project that I have not touched my other shawl or my sweater.

I finished Haus Frau by Jill Alexander Essbaum.  It was a fairly unremitting tale of depression, with a downward spiral.  Very well written, with lots of interesting detail about living in Zurich and the German (and Swiss German) language.  I would recommend it only if you are feeling strong and like linguistics!

At the moment I am reading The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell which is a far lighter take on "being foreign in a European country".  The author is a former Marie Claire magazine journalist, now working as Scandinavian correspondent for the Guardian, and it certainly reads a lot like a Sunday supplement series in book form.  I do hope she is mocking herself when she laments the lack of designer handbags in rural Denmark... but I am not sure.  It is an enjoyable read nevertheless.

I also have Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin, which is all about developing better habits.  Gretchen annoys me, but I think there is a lot of wisdom in this book.  I am trying to use my two week break from the office to establish new routines:  running, cleaning, healthy eating. This has all been put on hold following a spoonful of mouldy blueberries eaten on Sunday.  I am still suffering the consequences.  I am just glad FL did not have any!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

FO: Cali Faye BASICS.tank, the oversized version

Happy Sunday everyone!

In today's episode of The Vest Quest, may I present the Cali Faye Collection BASICS.tank?

Before I show you a picture of me wearing it, I need to point out that I expected it to be slightly too big.

The Vest Quest is an unscientific experiment to ensure that I have couple of pattern options to try out with The Girl while she is here on holiday.

I am sure she won't mind me saying she is a wee bit bustier than me, so I opted for size medium, instead of small.

I squeezed it out of scraps of fabric from the stash.
The back is the same white cotton that I used last week for the Bantam Top trial run.
The front is the final piece of broderie anglaise from a never-ending half-metre I bought years ago and have been pillaging for collars and yokes.

It is totally transparent.
This is another nightie!

But that's not a bad thing.

The Bantam Top is the best pj top I have ever had - the cotton is so smooth and cool.  Perfect for the summer, when FL is still cuddling up with a hot water bottle, wearing two shirts and a woolly hat, but I am hanging my feet out of the duvet to breathe!

Speaking of FL... it would appear he laid a bowl of rhubarb crumble down on my ironing board while I was out of the room.

My DIY bias binding smelt amazing as I pressed it and I wondered why... that stain had better come out, or he's in trouble!  (The ironing board cover has a big blob of ironed-on fruit, the binding escaped with just a smidgen.)

Making and attaching the bias binding was a bit stressful altogether, as my Instagram followers will have gathered.

The Cali Faye tutorial would have you fold it under itself at the join.  But past experience of that method left me with a too-tight underarm seam.

I much prefer the Merchant and Mills method (from the Bantam Top), of seaming the binding at an angle before you attach it... but that only works if it is exactly the right length and I found that hard to judge.  M and M provide a pattern piece for the bias binding.  Cali Faye does not.

By sewing it at an angle, the bias retains its stretch and fits the curve far better.
This is what it looks like once you get it trimmed down to size and stitched, ready to attach:

Back to the BASICS.tank...

The straps are just the right width to cover bra straps, back and front.
And the back neck sits really nicely - no gaping.
The front is cut a bit lower than I prefer, but I think The Girl will like it.
The armholes are deeper than I like too, but not ridiculous.
The shirt tail is perhaps an inch and a half longer at the back than the front.
It flares out at the hip and covers my jeans pockets - a good length.


Pattern:  Cali Faye Collection BASICS.tank, a print-at-home pdf, in size Medium.  This is supposed to fit a 34.5 inch bust, but even though I used French seams when the seam allowance was only meant to be 3/8 inch total, the finished top measures 36 inches at the underarm level.

Fabric: Two scavenged scraps, as described above.  The bias binding gobbles up yardage though, so beware being too ambitious.  You could probably make it from a yard (or metre) in the medium size.


At the beginning, there is a warning:  "skill level is based on the complexity of the garment construction, as well as the verbiage used in the tutorial."

Really, it should be a breeze to sew a simple vest and I see no reason for fancy "verbiage" when plain English does the job.

In comparing construction methods I much preferred (and used) the Merchant and Mills method: stitch the hem first; French seam the sides and shoulders; stay stitch the neck and armholes edges; sew the bias at an angle to preserve the stretch... and you are done, with not a stray thread in sight.


In the right size and the right fabric I can imagine making this again for me, if I was going somewhere hot and sunny.
But more importantly, I think The Girl will like this pattern a lot.
As long as I can guide her safely through the bias binding, we should be on to a winner!