Thursday, May 21, 2015

Apple Blossom Time and a Pair of Pox Socks

Exciting times on the farm:  the apple tree is flowering!
FL gifted me 5 fruit trees for our first wedding anniversary in 2008, and it has taken 7 years for the apple tree to have blossom.
Will we get any apples this year?
That would be amazing!
The pear tree is trying hard too, but its flowers are far less prolific.
If you peer through the leaves, you can see the remains of the beehives which haven't seen bees since the 1970s.
What a pity!
I can't help thinking we might need bees to pollinate the trees...?

In knitting news, I finished my latest Vanilla Sprinkles socks, this time using up the remains of a ball of Arne and Carlos sock yarn from these socks, with a 50g ball of strawberry-coloured Regia 4 ply for the cuffs and feet.
I was astonished when they turned out as a matching pair because I did nothing at all to contrive it.
Serendipity!

The second sock was knit in a week, mostly because we spent a lot of time in the hospital on Tuesday.
It was FL's regular check-up and we were full of trepidation because he had been feeling very ill.
The doctor was puzzled.  His blood tests seemed to suggest he was doing really well.
Where was the pain?  What sort of pain was it?  Any rashes?
"Definitely not" said FL.
So she asked him to remove his shirt for an examination...
OMG!  His chest was a mess of weeping blisters!
The doctor took one look and said:  "Shingles!"
They were all round his upper chest and shoulders, just above his field of vision if he looked down at himself.  So he had no idea.
I felt like the very bad mother of a naughty toddler - how could I not have known?!
And of course we had been sitting in the waiting room for several hours, surrounded by immune-compromised chemo patients... oh the guilt!
I am so very sorry if anyone caught the virus from him that day!
We were put into a quarantine room until FL's drugs arrived, with mammoth doses of Acyclovir for the shingles (which is like grown-up chicken pox with extra nerve pain, if you don't know.)
He was very grumpy, not least because he wasn't allowed to go down to the cafe while we waited.
I fetched him some tempting snacks, but he just wanted to go home and go to bed.
Fair enough.
So I knitted a sock.
A Pox Sock?

Myeloma Update
FL's Freelite score was down to 80.
However, because of the shingles they decided not to give him dexamethasone this month, in case it made the pox worse than it already was.
They did continue his prescription for Pomalidomide, because without it they reckon his myeloma would take advantage of his current weakness and strike back.
Fun times!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

FO: Marilla Walker's Maya Top in Seersucker

Sunday greetings!
I truly wasn't expecting to blog today, because I was waiting for buttons to arrive before I could finish this top.
Because I wasn't sure how big the buttons would be, I couldn't stitch the buttonholes.
And that meant I couldn't finish the armholes, or sew up the side seams or...
Hang on a minute, Roo!  You don't actually have to follow the instructions that closely!

And as you can see... in the end I didn't.
In fact, there are no buttonholes at all in my version of the Maya Top by Marilla Walker.
I stitched down the front buttonbands and added two very simple cream vintage buttons, at the very top and mid-way, just to make the point that there is a placket.
I don't think you can see it in these pictures, but I topstitched a giant X just above where my necklace hangs, as if it was a henley front.
Just because.

The other "style feature" I added was the shirt pocket just above the curved hemline, only on one side.
I was going to add a decorative button to this pocket, but I managed to rein myself in.
There was quite a lot of reining in!
At one stage I was planning to use giant blue Borrower-style buttons.
Then I was going to use a row of mismatched dark red buttons:  flowers and squares and round ones and ovals and... stop!
There is nothing wrong with that whole Boden-esque quirky crafty look, but it has started to feel a bit embarrassing to me, personally.
Maybe I am finally growing up?
Nah - unlikely!
If ever there was an example of me finally paying attention to sewing what I actually want to wear, this is it!
A simple, clean and fresh, almost neutral summer top that looks smart enough for the office under a cardigan or even bare-armed in warmer weather.
Absolutely no underarm bra-flash, but plenty of ventilation!
And perfect for showing off my Silly Old Suitcase beads!  (Ooh - they are 25% off this month!  See the Etsy shop for the coupon code.)

Hooray for Me Made May, wearable wardrobes, self analysis and slowing down!

Stats:

Pattern:
Maya Top/ dress by Marilla Walker, in size 2.
It is a pdf pattern so you have to take some time to tape and trace, but it is really well drafted, so worth the effort.
The directions are excellent.  I now know how to do a French seam without ghastly fraying whiskers appearing from every orifice!
And the facings fit perfectly at the neck and armhole edges - something that has gone wrong for me in the past with other patterns.

Fabric:
1.3 metres of high quality pure cotton seersucker which I bought as a remnant from Dragonfly Fabrics several years ago.
I still have another sizeable piece of this left in the stash for another day.
I was worried it was going to look like a pyjama top, but the necklace saves it I think!

Other:
Two vintage Schwanda buttons from ebay a long long time ago.

Verdict?

I was prepared for this to be a "wearable muslin", but I am pretty sure it is going to be a wardrobe staple.
My next version is going to be dress-length in a lightweight dark denim, with shell buttons.
Or a plain-fronted dress in double gauze.
Or a high-low top in bird-print cotton.
All of these fabrics are in the stash, so there is nothing to stop me... other than finding the time to get on with it!


Monday, May 11, 2015

Making May Sing

There was an unusual level of social interaction at the farm last week.
As a result I seemed to do nothing but cook and clean and smile a lot... and then there was the washing up to do!
So Sunday was a Day of Rest.

Saying that, I spent several hours crawling around on the (clean!) floor taping together a pdf pattern and then tracing it in my size.  It is the Maya Dress or Top by Marilla Walker.
I have resisted for a while, because I felt like I already had a surfeit of simple shift / tunic top patterns.  Why buy another?
But I really like the look of the button-through version and Marilla has shown so many lovely variations on her blog, even using the same pattern to make a coat, that I finally cracked.
Ad Hoc MKAL - Clue 3 :)
After all that exercise, I collapsed onto the sofa with my knitting and some podcasts.
I finally caught up on the last few episodes of A Playful Day.
If you are interested in the idea of a handmade wardrobe, you will really enjoy the most recent episode, an interview with Ysolda Teague.
Kate and Ysolda discuss the practicalities behind creating a self-stitched wardrobe  - making garments that you will really wear, instead of those pretty dresses that look so great on other people but may not fit into your lifestyle.
It is a topic dear to my heart right now and I especially enjoyed hearing how Ysolda's own style has evolved from a love of 1940's vintage, to something rather more utilitarian.
So no actual sewing this weekend, but lots of thinking about sewing!

My new culottes are finding their place in my wardrobe.
Last week I wore them with a long-sleeved tee, black cardigan and my laceweight Vintage Fremont shawl.
Today, a sudden burst of sunshine saw me in my Raindrops on Roses top, the same cardigan and my jet beads and earrings.
Me Made May has remained undocumented in these parts.  I somehow failed to sign up for the Flickr group, I don't do Instagram or Twitter, and Pinterest confuses me.  I am considering it to be a personal research project this time around, rather than a public performance!
Maybe it is because "plain" clothes don't feel worthy of trumpetting.  I love reading Dolly Clackett's blog and seeing all her amazing frocks!  By comparison, who would want to see me wearing the same denim skirt 3 days last week?
Speaking of amazing frocks... check out the lead singer of Alabama Shakes, Brittany Howard's dress for the Coachella Festival!
Holy Bat-Capes!

It was designed by Christian Joy.
You really need to see it in action.
This is my favourite song "Future People" from their new album.
Enjoy!

Saturday, May 09, 2015

FO: Winter is Coming Shawl


The first week of May brought snow, sunshine and an unexpected guest.
It was also marked by the knitting of a rather lovely shawl.


This is "Winter is Coming" by Sally Jane Cameron, Pink Hair Girl.
I had no plans to make this at all, until I saw Cara of the Knit All The Things Podcast show her's.
Ooh!
And so this became my holiday knitting project.


I used a skein of Fyberspates Echo Self-Striping sock yarn from the depths of the stash.
It is 100% bfl and far better suited to a shawl project than socks.



The pattern is broken into a series of episodes:  the wall, the snow, the waves, dragon scales, then icicles and stakes.
This might mean more to a Game of Thrones fan.
I just liked the pattern!
I always enjoy a project that can be broken down into distinct bite-sized chunks - it feels like progress every time you pick it up.
It was looking rather tiny until I blocked it.
Then that beautiful lace opened up and the bfl bloomed and it turned into a really lovely piece of fabric.
I intend to knit it again, using a gradient dyed sock blank, which should be on its way to me soon.

Let me leave you with a game of spot the difference :)
On the left:  my new distance glasses.
On the right:  my new reading glasses.
Yup, old age has finally caught up with me and I need two pairs of specs.
Hooray for Specsavers!

Friday, May 01, 2015

Me Made May: The Inventory

'I, Roobeedoo, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '15.  I endeavour to wear me-made clothes that bring me joy (ooh - there's the catch!) each day for the duration of May 2015'

So here we go - another game of wardrobe Russian roulette.

In 2010, I itemised my wardrobe in preparation for Self Stitched September.
The only garments (as opposed to handknit shawls and socks) which remain from that time are:
14 September 2010:  red dress and black jacket - both have survived
The dress comes out of the wardrobe about once a year, on very hot days when I have a Committee meeting.
The jacket comes out slightly more often, but the dotty buttons are dangerously clownish.
I can't remember wearing the pullover at all, except during Me-Made challenges.

This year's inventory is decidedly smaller than 2010's version.
I have decided that I need to concentrate on my work wardrobe, because the dog doesn't care what I wear round the farm.

My me-made work wardrobe consists of:

  • 5 skirts
  • 1 pair culottes
  • 5 woven tops
  • 4 jersey tops
  • 1 jacket
  • 4 dresses
That's 20 items, not including hand knits or knickers.
GULP.

One strong coffee and a chocolate Hob Nob later...

I decided to count my shop-bought items and add them to the list.

The grand total of work-appropriate garments in my wardrobe comes to 35 items, including 3 Boden cardigans, my everyday Seasalt raincoat, a shocking pink summer coat, and a beautiful Brora sweater that I reserve for "best".

I haven't included hand-knits because I think of them as "wintry" and this is supposed to be my spring - summer wardrobe. 
This is akin to FL's refusal to open brown envelopes:  denial will bring you nothing but trouble in the end.  
But bear with me:  I wear a hand knitted shawl almost every day; I am not trying to pretend otherwise.

The purpose of this exercise is to find my happy place.

Maybe I have stopped sewing because I view my clothes as the backdrop for the real stars, the hand knits?
Maybe I just can't be bothered thinking up "outfits" anymore, and would be happier to adopt a uniform of sorts?

I am sure it will become clear over the course of the month... or not.

Happy May Day!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

April in Review

It was only when I came to write this that I realised why I am feeling the way I am - what a crazy month!

Ad Hoc Clue 2- intriguing! ;)
Knitting

I finished my Ad Hoc Test Knit - are you knitting along?  I have seen some lovely versions over in the Geoknittrix Ravelry group.

And I finished my hotchpotch vanilla socks, to use up the Regia yarn left from my first vanilla socks.
I am currently working on another pair, to use up the Arne and Carlos Yarn, with plain strawberry red cuffs and possibly feet.


I got excited about Barn Raising Squares.

I cast on a 1980's pattern sweater - and finished the back already.

And this week I cast on for the Winter is Coming shawl using deep stash yarn.
The pattern is a winner, because each section is a bite-sized chunk, so I just want to keep knitting.

However, I am less sure about my yarn selection.
It is Fyberspates Echo Sock in Mixed Brights. 100% BFL.
That red looks like... um... gore.  I am not sure I want to look as if I have been stabbed in the back when I wear it!
But I am not stopping now.

Sewing

I made a pair of culottes and a long sleeved tee - boom!

I am still trying to work out what to wear on my feet with these culottes.  My two tone brogues ought to work but they look a bit too delicate.  My chelsea boot DMs are perfect but what about the bit of leg between the boot and the hem?  Socks?  Tights?  It can't be the plain duck egg blue legs for work...

This week I tried to make some knickers, but it was a disaster.
The sewing machine chewed the fabric and the thread snapped and then the elastic got caught and frayed and.... yeah.
Into the bin.

Purchasing

Where do I start?!

Fabric for a tee shirt... but it might be for The Girl and not me.

Several balls of Regia sock yarn (but I sold some on Ravelry to compensate).

A pair of trainers, because I am going to get fit.

A smartphone so that I could have the Zombies Run app... except I seem to have bought the only phone in the UK that doesn't let me buy that app.  If I lived in the States I could have it.  Go figure.  I will have to find a substitute (for the get-fit game - it is too late for the phone).

...and a white cotton ready-to-wear shirt.
OMG I bought an item of clothing!
It is an allegedly ethical purchase.
ShopEthical gives Monki a score of 53 out of 100.  That might not sound impressive, until you see that eg Ralph Lauren scores 6 out of 100.


Reading

I have the audiobook of David Nicholls' Us in the car.
I am not going to get it finished by Saturday when it is due back (someone else has reserved it).
I don't love the narration, and I would have skimmed through some sections if I was reading it myself, but if I saw the book on the library shelf I would probably get it and finish it in an afternoon. It is very British, self-deprecating humour and will make a great film.
If you have ever been married to a biochemist you will roll around the floor laughing.
Just saying.

In actual paper-based reading, I am more than halfway through The World Before Us by Aislinn Hunter.
It is a quiet read.
Maybe there is a twist in the tale?

Decluttering

Lots and lots of decluttering!
I stripped out the kitchen cupboards and I tackled my wardrobe (again).
I had a trip to the tip and a trip to the charity shop, and another is planned.
I got the drains cleared - woo hoo!


Myeloma Update

FL's Freelite score continues to hold steady on Pomalidomide.

During April's visit to the hospital, I overheard a man in the waiting room saying that he has had Myeloma for 13 years and he claimed to be Scotland's longest-living survivor of this cancer.  He too is on Pom, but it is not going so well.
I thought about introducing him to FL (who couldn't hear the conversation) but I decided against it. Everyone's experience of this disease is so different.

Life

The longer FL goes on being well, the less likely it is that I will apply for "Voluntary Severance".
I only have until July to apply and it is not certain that I would be successful, as I know I am not on the "dark alley conversations" list.
My employer needs 150 well-paid volunteers to balance the books. Inevitably, it is the lower paid, who can more easily find another job, who are making enquiries.  Just like last time.  Sigh.

Hence my prevarication about making new work clothes - I might not need them!

But look what's on the horizon:  Me Made May!
Me Made May with a much-reduced inventory - eek!

More of that tomorrow....

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Spring Cleaning My Life

Greetings from the snowy 'shire!
Tulips in the snow
I am on holiday from work for a week just because I could... and because I really felt the need. Things are a little crazy at the Fun Palace these days.
I am taking the opportunity to Get Things Done - all those personal and home maintenance chores that a 9 to 5 job doesn't leave space for.
The blizzard approaches
So I have been deep-cleaning kitchen cupboards and drawers, typing up a chapter of FL's book, booking an optician's appointment, taking rubbish to the tip, shopping for a new phone and a printer... so many things from the To Do list!
I even ordered a pair of trainers so that I can do some gentle running round the farm.  I will never be an athlete, but I would really like to be more fit.  Running in wellies is downright dangerous.  So I have bought a pair of shoes which support the ankle on rough ground and have extra grip on mud.

"WTF?  I'm not going for a walk in this!"
And with my new phone, I can finally have the Zombies Run app!  Yeah, I am still a kid despite the grey hair.

There will hopefully be some sewing (new knickers are top of the list!)

And there will definitely be more knitting.  I have been powering ahead with Barn Raising Squares and have 13 completed in total.

Barn Raising Squares in progress
I finished the back of my 1980's jumper.

And I am working on another vanilla sock using leftover Arne and Carlos yarn, with regular strawberry-coloured Regia for cuffs, heels and toes (no pictures yet).

I am itching to cast on a new shawl, as my "holiday project", but I can't decide which stash yarn to use.
I hope I am not still procrastinating when Friday comes around!

Blocking the first 13 Squares - I ran out of pins!
And I have been reading:  The World Before Us by Aislinn Hunter. I wish I could get Truly Madly Deeply (the film) out of my head, because it is not like that at all... except in some ways it is.  I like it but I am not crazy about it so far.

Have a good week - enjoy the spring weather!
The view from the kitchen window at 5pm