Monday, August 24, 2015

FO: Maya Dottie Angel Frock

Happy Monday!
This weekend was devoted to making my first Dottie Angel frock.
It is not the one I planned to make, because I was so in awe of my beautiful Merchant and Mills block print khadi fabric I was afraid to cut it.  Ha!
So this is the economy version.


Simplicity 1080, the Dottie Angel frock, in size XS and Marilla Walker's Maya Dress, size 2, blended together at the underarm.

Around 1.2m of fine seersuckerish cotton print from Croft Mill for the main part of the dress; perhaps 40cm of Merchant and Mills 5 oz denim (leftover from my Brumby skirt); and a repurposed linen camisole for the pockets.
Lots of black and white gingham bias binding - probably 5 metres of it.  I used it inside and outside:  on the seam between the upper and lower parts of the dress, to bind the hem, to make the apron string ties and to bind the pockets.

As noted above, I decided to mash together two patterns.  Although I liked the photos of the dress on the pattern envelope, I realised that the neckline as designed was lower, and the sleeves were scantier than I prefer.
Look, it's mostly cold here.  I am not as young as I used to be.  Um, yeah.
Also, reading reviews of the pattern by other bloggers set my alarm bells ringing.  People commented that the neck binding did not sit properly, and that the finish of the sleeve / shoulder edges stuck out awkwardly. 
So I did the sensible thing and used the upper section of my favourite pattern of 2015, the Maya dress, blending the two together at the underarm.  As it happens, size XS Simplicity and size 2 Maya matched perfectly, and being a similar pull-over style, the two can be constructed using the same methods.

The other thing that I changed was that I lowered the front tucks to sit below my bust, as other bloggers noted that they were set too high, causing an unflattering matronly bosom shape.
In my case, I dropped the point where the apron strings are attached by 2cm.


Once I decided to use Maya for the upper section, my initial scepticism faded away.  The soft drapey print was perfectly "Dottie Angel"-looking and the blue linen I scavenged for the pockets was a perfect colour match.  The gingham bias binding was serendipitous - I just happened to have it in my stash, and it worked well.
Dressed-up version with Lotta of Stockholm clogs

It was quite a lot of work, as I chose to French seam everything except the join between upper and lower skirt, which is covered on the inside with bias binding.  I am not complaining, but it was definitely a candidate for "slow sewing" rather than a quick project to rustle up in an afternoon.  It took me two full days of dedicated stitching.

Everyday version with wellies :)

Will I make another?
I almost definitely will, using the khadi block print I bought with this in mind, but maybe not until next summer.  The barley is almost ready for harvest.  It is not the right time to sew summer frocks.  I might wear this with a long-sleeved tee underneath and a warm cardigan on top, but my arms are unlikely to see the light of day again this year!

Monday, August 17, 2015

FO: The Thirty Year Old Sweater

30 years ago I knitted a Big Green Jumper.
I was in the midst of my final exams at University, living in a tiny damp cupboard in a house full of strangers.  Everyone else was coupled up, but I was traumatically single after breaking up with FL, first time around. 
It was effing cold and I needed a woolly hug.  I hadn’t touched the needles for years, but I took myself to the local yarn store and chose 3 Suisses Juniors Nr 111:  40 High-Fashion Designs that Spell Freedom and 18 balls of wool/acrylic mix “Suizasport”. 

I have searched everywhere but I can’t find a photo of that jumper, which is odd as I wore it almost constantly for about 2 years.  I know I was wearing it the day I met the father of my children for the first time.
I gave you a tour of this book when it arrived, fresh from ebay.  I threw my original copy out maybe 20 years ago, thinking it had no place in my life anymore.  But for the past decade I have longed for another Big Green Jumper like the one I knit way back then.  I remember it as being soft and warm and snuggly and comforting.  Even the business of knitting it was all of those things to me in my time of need!

Fast forward to 2015.  I had a skein and a bit of Cascade Eco Plus leftover from knitting my son’s blanket. 
I thought it might be enough for a sweater and the gauge looked close enough to recreate Design no 9955, Girl’s Jumper in Irish Moss Stitch.
I had to buy another skein to finish the sleeves, so it was less of a stash-buster than planned, but that’s OK.

OK, it’s red and not green. 
But otherwise it is pretty much the sweater of my nostalgic dreams.
The sleeves are definitely bat-winged, but as they are also slightly cropped they don’t feel ridiculously huge in wear.  
The overall shape is boxy, in that 1980’s way, but to my eye it could just as easily be a pattern from the 1950’s.  Audrey Hepburn would totally wear this sweater!
I was very tired of k1 p1 by the end of this knit.  If ever there was a candidate for Second Sleeve Syndrome, this was it. 
But I wanted the finished product, so I ploughed on (and on).
I didn’t have anything else on the needles, not even socks, so this went everywhere with me until it was done.  

Now I am ready for winter in a cold damp farmhouse.
And hopefully this time FL will be around to hug while I am wearing it.

PS These are not deliberately arty photographs - my camera loathes the colour red!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

SOBOE with a Clinical Fellow

This is one for the Myeloma fans.
If you do not have a taste for blood, come back another day when I will have some sewing and / or knitting for you.
Enjoy the photos of my garden and scoot past the words :)

It was FL's regular appointment at the hospital yesterday.
Last month they ordered scans of his heart and lungs, but neither appointment has come through yet due to the length of the queue.
Meantime, he has been very tired and in significant pain and has not left the house unless I have been there to escort him out into the garden.
He spends his days sleeping until I come home from work.
If the farm labourer is around he sticks a "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door.
He complains that the news readers on tv are no longer speaking sense (he may have a point...)

Yesterday we saw a Clinical Fellow - a job title which makes me laugh. Very PG Wodehouse!  I wonder if one has to enjoy playing cricket and boating on the river to be a "Fellow"?!
He was a Very Fine Fellow indeed :)
Concentrate Roo!

This Fellow was clearly familiar with FL's file, even though we had not seen him for about 7 years.
He listened to what FL was saying about his symptoms over the past few months, and decided to do a back to basics set of tests - blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen levels.  He sent FL for a couple of chest x rays - to assess the state of his ribcage and his lungs.  And he ordered a ct scan of the same area, as the queue for ct scans is shorter than the queue for mri scans.  That should happen next week sometime.

The x ray request said that FL had "increasing SOBOE", which I had to google.  It stands for "Symptoms Of Breathlessness On Exertion".  Who knew?!  I love a good acronym :)

But probably the most important thing the Fellow told us was the result of FL's last Freelite test - the measure of his Myeloma.
The basic number is now at 200 (July blood).  It was 129 in June and 148 in May.
That looks like an up and down picture until you look at the ratio between his kappa and his lambda light chains.  And the Consultant, you may recall, is all about The Ratio.
The ratio has gone from 17 to 19 to 24.

As the Fellow said:  it looks as if we have to accept that the Pomalidomide is no longer useful.

However, we left the hospital with another (final?) month's supply of the superdrug.  They also decided to try him on Gabapentin instead of Amitriptyline for the nerve pain. Because until the doctors have a clear picture of what is going on, they have nothing else to offer.

So there you have it.
Another month of waiting and sleeping and knitting and staying calm.
We got permission to rearrange the date of his interim blood test so that we can have a holiday on the West Coast.
Now that I can drive FL's car I have no excuse not to put on my big girl pants and do a long drive.  At least there are no motorways to contend with.
I just have to find a dog-friendly holiday house with no stairs, a shrubbery and comfy cushions.

Fun times!

Friday, August 07, 2015

Plotting the Thought Process

Take this pattern, View C...
Yes, that is the Dottie Angel frock, Simplicity 1080.
View C has a contrasting fabric section below the big pockets.
Cut the upper section out of this amazing khadi cotton block print from Merchant and Mills (sold out at Raystitch).
Cut the lower section out of denim.
You know what that looks like.
And the pockets out of my favourite shirt... because I think its life as a shirt may be over.

Looks like a plan to me!
But first I need to make more knickers...

Monday, August 03, 2015

Knit and Rip, with two FOs

A quick update on my knitting.
If you follow me on Instagram (theroobeedoo) you will already have seen these pictures.

I finished the Coop Knits Mystery Knitalong Sock, Curiosa.

It is a beautiful pattern with undulating twisted stitches.  Rather Art Nouveau, I think.
I used Regia sock yarn and I was not blown away on this occasion - one of the two balls was kinda fuzzy and felted and that sock is rough to the touch.  I suppose I could complain to Regia but it was very cheap (£1.59 a ball?) so perhaps it was a dud batch.

I started two other socks and they both had to be frogged.

My first Hermione's Everyday Sock in Knitting Goddess Yarn turned out to be ginormous, for no reason I can identify.


And then there was a Cable and Rib sock using my last precious Crown Mountain Farms Sock Hop handspun...

The yarn was very seriously over-spun, and kept spiralling back on itself.  This was annoying enough, but the resultant fabric was as stiff as a cheese grater and no good for socks.  At all.

I have no socks on the needles now. 
Can you believe it?  Me neither!
Must fix that tonight.

In happier knitting news, I finished my Tailspin Shawl by Josh Ryks, Sword of a Knitter / GeoKnittrix

I used Knitting Goddess mini skeins in an amazing Blackened Rainbow colourway, on a background of Same Difference sock yarn in "Bigger on the Inside".
Not quite big enough, I ran out of yarn and had to omit the final section of the pattern.  This was my own fault.  I was being stubborn. 
Imagine a final section of black / navy after that purple kite stripe?
That would have been the icing on the cake.  But I am a cheapskate and stopped when my yarn ran out.  It is still a generously-sized shawl and I love the colours.

I had another shawl on the needles - another Curl, the Fulvous.

Note the past tense.
Almost every single stitch in that laceweight silk (Dye for Yarn)was worked through the back loop.


So I have no shawl on the needles either.
Get a grip Roo - cast something on, why don't you?

Oh...ok then :)

Friday, July 31, 2015

FO: StridesTrousers from the Merchant and Mills Workbook

I decided to make the most of my enforced digital vacation by knuckling down to a Big Sewing Project.
The Strides trousers are described as “probably the most advanced pattern in the book” (Merchant and Mills Workbook).

“Step out in these elegant, timeless gentlemen’s trousers and stand side by side with the big boys.”

The Strides from Merchant and Mills Workbook, in size 10.
The finished measurements for this size are waist:  74cm (29 inches) and hip: 110 cm (43 inches).  Um... yes... I should have done that conversion to inches before I started.
Size 8 would probably fit me better.  I am not sure what I was thinking.
There is ample acreage in that hip ease, and a fabric with plenty of drape is essential.

I used a remnant of Gracie chino cotton from Sherwoods Fabrics:  1.98m for £16.02.  This was sufficient for me, because I was shortening the legs.  
I also had to cut the waistband across the fabric width instead of along the grainline. 
This fabric was perhaps slightly too stiff for the pattern.  In retrospect I would have chosen something softer if I had known how low-slung the crotch was going to be.
I lined the pockets and fly guard with a scrap of leftover cotton from my Vicar’s Wife blouse.

Interfacing for waistband, lots of thread, a zip, one flat button and a hook and bar fastener.  I also used satin bias tape to face my hem.

These took me two full days of sewing, after tracing and cutting out.  You need to make a commitment to this pattern and pace yourself.

I had some issues.  There is an error in the written instructions for the fly, which direct you to cut off the curved section on the right hand side:  it should be the left hand side.  As I struggle to distinguish left from right at the best of times, I found this very frustrating, as I was being extra careful to follow the instructions to the letter.

Because I did as I was told, I ended up having to sew my fly guard on with the lining side to the outside instead of the inside.  I didn’t have enough of my lining fabric left to make another and had already made a really good job of the first one, button hole and everything.

It doesn’t matter... but there is a danger of flashing the lining at the top waistband edge if your belt shifts in wear.
I would also query the cut of the pocket linings.  They do not fit perfectly.  I am not sure if this is intended to add a 3D “bag” to their shape.  There is nothing in the instructions to suggest how to accommodate the misalignment, which is about 1.5cm deep.  In the end I resorted to reducing the top edge seam allowance, matching the bottom edges, and somehow making it work at the side. 
The zip instructions are comprehensive, though I had to mirror all the illustrations for them to make sense with my wrong-sided fly. 

You might expect that I would be disappointed with these trousers, after all my mistakes and troubles with the construction. 
The fit isn’t exactly right either!
From the front they are fabulous. 
The back view is not so hot.
I can pinch out a good inch horizontally across the hip, even after hoisting them up as far as they will go.  This is obviously an adjustment I could make if I was to sew them again.  But it might be enough to sew the smaller size in a drapey fabric.  I have some fine wool in the stash that would be perfect.
However, even in their current state I love their attitude.

They have sass and swagger.
Their slouchy man-sized cut makes them super-comfortable.

The test will be whether they look OK after a day at the office.  All that sitting and standing plays havoc with a saggy bottom!  But if they turn out not to be fit for work, I am more than happy to wear them with pride at the weekend and around the house.  Because, actually they are a damned fine pair of trousers!

Monday, July 27, 2015

What I did on my holidays

Two weeks at home without a Broadband connection found me standing at the top of the hill, in the middle of a barley field, waving my phone in the air in the hope of locating Planet Instagram.  If I stand right here, I can send and receive messages from The Outside World.
And BT cannot tell me when they will be able to lay a new line.
However... I achieved a lot in my time away from the office.

I gutted out my son's childhood bedroom, boxed up the Finnish Metal CDs and Pulsing Maggot posters, removed the desiccated bird from behind the radiator, opened the windows and painted the walls.  It's a rather lovely room now, and when the sun shines I can lie down on the carpet and pretend to read a book, when really I am just enjoying being a cat.

I also made an effort to try out my new cookbook, A Modern Way To Cook.  Last summer I was all about A Modern Way To Eat, and my love for that volume has not diminished.  The latest edition is equally exciting.
The above picture is not taken from the book, it is a photograph of my dinner from the other night - woo hoo!  That is  a Buddha Bowl and it took quite a lot of ingredient-gathering and chopping to create.  However, it sparked a lot more conversation at the table than has been possible lately.  FL came out of his haze of pain to conduct a forensic examination of his bowl and conclude that is was "Actually very interesting."
We have also tried a Sweet Leek and Butternut Hash, which was pronounced "Excellent!" and Squash, Greens and Quinoa Fritters, which were (wait for it) "Absolutely gorgeous!"... to the extent that he ate the leftovers for breakfast the next morning.  Result!

Of course, I did a lot of sewing too.  I already showed you a snap of my Strides trousers.  I also made three pairs of underpants and two tops.  By pair three, I perfected the fit of Ohhh Lulu's  Grace knicker pattern, using a remnant of Liberty Tana jersey (yes, all-over stretch knit fabric, not woven).  I will definitely make more of these, with matching elastic instead of just the odds and ends from my stash.  I can't show you the prototypes... too embarrassing!

can show you my new tops, though!
This is a Marilla Walker Maya, using 1.25m of Liberty Tana Lawn (from The Village Haberdashery).  Matching the pattern repeats on that fabric was a hoot.  And it was only when I had finished that I realised the central panel was off-centre.
I love it.

And this is a Lisette Portfolio top, a carbon copy of the one I made in 2011 and literally wore to bits.
The dobby dot fabric (from Guthrie and Ghani) is beautiful.  I put the textured embroidery on the inside so that the dots shine through from below.
I know this will be a wardrobe staple.

I have been knitting up a storm as well.  Of course :)
I kept up with the Coop Knits MKAL and am on the final clue for both socks.

And just yesterday I blocked my Tailspin Shawl, by Josh Ryks, Sword of a Knitter / Geoknittrix.
I ran out of yarn and had to omit the final section, which would have added a plain garter stitch border with a self-coloured "kite" insert.
I am a little sad about that, but it is pretty huge as it is.
It is a very unusual shape and I could have done with a larger surface to pin it out on.
I'll show you what it looks like "in wear" once it dries.

I have another week off at the end of August.
It would be lovely if FL and I could get away to the West Coast (of Scotland) and now that I know how to drive his car, that is a possibility if he is well enough.
We'll see.