Monday, January 2

New Year, new post

As promised, photos of the two most recently finished projects:

DSCN2615
Blue slubby cardigan for my niece - no, it's not supposed to flare out like that. It's too big for her alas, I forgot she's tall and thin for her age, like her brother. Never mind, she loved the buttons and liked the colour I think. Knitted this on the KH260 with reverse stocking stitch bands, I only did ribbing for the button bands. I assumed it was some sort of cotton but actually I think it might be acrylic. The cone wasn't labelled!

DSCN2617
Finished table runner on our New Year's dining table. I think my edges would be less wobbly if I could just stick to a pattern for more than an inch or so! Ha! But got these yarns from My Fine Weaving Yarns so will be able to make another one if I can curb my enthusiasm and just do the zigzag pattern... :) Oh, there are glass table mats on it, I didn't suddenly figure out how to add black text to weaving haha! :) Sorry for the rotten picture but I shan't see daylight at home again until Saturday.

Didn't manage to get much crafty stuff done this week, but have enjoyed relaxing in front of the tv and helping the Cog get through all the naughty food. Did do a little sewing on a crossover top today, just got the sleeves to set in and some hemming to do. It hangs oddly but hopefully that will be fixed with the addition of a button and buttonhole.

Happy New Year!

Current mood: sad because the holiday is over. Boo hoo!

Friday, December 30

Random photos

Some random photos taken over Xmas and around where I live. I shall entitle them "Winter in Suburbia". Ha!

DSC03997

DSC04012
Cat toy, gotta love the macro lens!

DSC04013
Ditto - a crocheted waistcoat

DSC04021

DSC04032

DSC04033
Star lamp, xmas present from sister

DSC04057

DSC04068

DSC04077

DSC04078
Love this old tree, building works for new estate underway somewhat spoiling the view though..

DSC04084

DSC04092

DSC04111
Breaking in new "xmas present to myself" walking boots...

DSC04116
That cat can really move!

Thursday, December 29

Lateral thinking - or how to really pee a sewist off!

Sometimes it pays to think laterally, or heed advice given you early in the search for something.

My Singer overlocker, an older model, blew its bulb a week or so before Xmas. As luck would have it, I'd already used it for everything I needed, and it still works regardless of the bulb being present. Being fond of keeping local shops in business, I duly tramped over to the local Singer shop in Coventry, but was dismayed to learn that the only bulbs they kept were 14mm bayonets (not the 9mm I required), and that the proprietor had never even seen a bulb as small as mine. I later rang a Coventry institution, Atkins and Barkers, purveyors of spares items for anything electrical. Did they carry a 12v, 6w, 9mm bayonet bulb? They did not, but suggested a car or motorbike spares shop. Anyway, a bit of googling turned up the UK Singer spares website, which appeared to sell the exact bulb I required. The picture was grainy in the extreme, but the text clearly stated 9mm, so I ordered it, along with some overlocker needles.

Then Christmas happened, so it wasn't until the 28th that I had time to unwrap the bubblewrap and discover, to my horror, that the 9mm bayonet bulb I'd ordered was in fact a 14mm. I duly emailed the website, asking for a refund (as said bulb won't fit my sewing machine either, being a Husqvarna, which uses an all-glass bulb with a completely different fitting). I clearly shouldn't confuse folks on email, because I got a response back indicating I was batty and had ordered a Singer spare for a Husqvarna machine, and I could return it for a refund. So at this point I called them and explained. The person in charge of customer service got a bit huffy with me, when I pointed out that his website clearly stated 9mm, which is what I wanted, but he had sent 14mm. He declared he'd remove the listing completely (which he has done) - I have no problem with him selling 14mm bulbs, but a larger bayonet fitting and some soldering is not how I planned on spending my week off! Apparently Singer no longer supply the 9mm bulbs and yah boo to anyone who needs one. I have no desire to scrap a perfectly good overlocker just because lack of light means it's not obvious when it's powered on, the fact there is a moving blade does make it a little unsafe without adequate lighting.

Having been made quite furious by the brusque attitude (maybe one shouldn't have mentioned the trades descriptions act - but in this case, it was warranted!), we had decided to make a trip into Coventry anyway, but swung by the local Halfords (car spares) on the offchance. Guess what? I can get a two-pack of bulbs, 5w not 6w, but otherwise identical, for £1.49 - as opposed to £3.12 for a single incorrect bulb from Singer. Took me about 10 minutes to locate the packet and for that price it wouldn't matter if it didn't work, and if it did, I now had a spare too! If I'd paid attention to the chap at Atkins I could have had this sorted before xmas, had it not been a case of trying to avoid the retail park that Halfords is located on, because of traffic madness. But there ya go - lesson learned!

The table runner is off the loom and drying in the bathroom, it just needs a quick press for it to be ready for the New Year's Day table. We are planning on roast chicken and all the trimmings. I've not done much else crafty - work was very stressful in the last week or so, so lack of sleep has stolen my mojo somewhat. I am sticking to surfing, reading, playing with my camera and general pottering about.

After a spate of celebrity deaths, I was saddened to learn my mum's cat, Chloe, was put to sleep yesterday. She had a cancerous growth on her nose which had grown to the size of a 20p piece but was otherwise perfectly healthy. She must have gone downhill fast after Boxing Day. I hope she's chasing butterflies in heaven somewhere.

Being sent to the Netherlands on Jan 3 for a 3 night stay for work - I'm already under enough time pressure on the current project, and am now losing a whole working day to needless travel on top. We have Skype, there really is no need! Could really do without it - I sleep badly in strange places and then have the joy of having to drive back from Brum International at 9pm of a Friday night too (the car will no doubt be frozen!) when I'm so tired I'd be hard-pushed to remember my own postcode, let alone remember where all the blasted speed cameras are on my route home. I might take the M6 but they do like to dig it up after 8pm. I'm a homebody at heart; all my friends and hobbies are at home! Sigh... I shall be there alone too, so midday and evening meals will come out of my own pocket initially, in the "longest" wage month of the year, too. Yeah, I'm overjoyed, can you tell?! :S

Will post pics of the table runner when it's finished. Time to make a start on dinner so ironing boards will have to wait!

Current mood: relaxed but also anxious about the trip

Tuesday, December 13

FO: CSM socks

I finished off 3 pairs of CSM socks, an order for a work colleague. I really like the blue ones!

DSC03952

I also sold a pair yesterday, which was a nice surprise. I'm debating retiring the etsy store, it costs me money (albeit not a lot) and doesn't get much interest, apart from the crash course leaflets. Maybe I should start writing MK patterns instead :)

I'm no good at marketing and don't really have the time - I'm shy and retiring and not at all pushy. I like to think once folks try handmade socks they'll want more - they are just so much more substantial and cosy! :)

Sunday, December 11

FO: Very Easy Vogue dress 8358

I've struggled to finish the xmas dress, because (a) it was a very tricky fabric in terms of bulk in odd places (it's a patchwork velvet and tulle, on the bias and overlocked) and (b) it became apparent it would be impossible to wear any kind of bra under the dress without it showing, either under the arms or at the back. I have enough boobage that going braless was not going to be an option, neither were stick ons going to work for me. I did try it braless, and ended up with one tucked up into the dress and one swinging free. Not a good look!

dress_front

dress_back

Other mods to the pattern - it was supposed to have iron-on interfacing for the bodice, but as the velvet is seethrough in places I opted to line it instead. The pattern calls for a plain stretch-knit fabric, of course, waaay too easy haha!

Luckily, our crafty receptionist at work made a brilliant suggestion - sew an old bra into the dress lining and cut off the straps. I decided it would be better to buy a moulded bra, and as luck would have it Marks sell a two-pack of t-shirt bras, so I've gained a white one into the bargain. Some judicious pinning, tacking and sewing later and the dress is finished. The bra cups were carefully sewn by hand to the lining, so as not to show on the dress fabric. Not sure I wanted to risk damaging my sewing machine. I redid both of the shoulder straps, which were somewhat lumpy, and am pretending I can't see another slightly lumpy bit on one side. I'll just keep my left arm down! The crossover straps aren't completely level, so there's more side-boob on the left than on the right. I should probably have gone a little slower - nothing like a deadline to make you mess up.

If I make this again, I'll allow for a side zip and get proper bra cups sewn into it before making it up, I think. It's perfectly possible to get the dress on, but quite tricky to get back out of it. I'd no intention of unpicking a side seam to add a zip, less than a week before the intended wearing - the lining's been overlocked and the velvet has been double-stitched so it would be somewhat of a nightmare to pull off as there's not much material left in the seam to add a zip to. I would also line the straps instead of using the fashion fabric doubled, it made the joins rather bulky. I've only myself to blame on that score! It IS possible to get it on and off with care. Better not eat too many mince pies!

I also made a stole out of leftover fabric but it was more of a wonky scarf, not sure what I'll do with it.

Wore it to the works xmas do and got lots of compliments from the girls. Not a word from the lads, but then they probably didn't even notice it! Awoke with a very bad head this morning, but feeling almost human now. Just in time to go back to work, doh.

Current mood: pleased

Thursday, December 8

Free motion embroidery and applique

I've done three one-off evening classes at Guthrie and Ghani in Birmingham, and Tuesday night was the final one, free motion embroidery. I "drew" a rather poor Christmas bauble, and then appliqued some bits for another bauble and some holly. The base is some calico, some wadding and some thin muslin. We set a small stitch size and off we went. Claire (the tutor) is lovely and very helpful.

DSCN2562

Some more practice required I think...

Then we had a go embroidering on two thicknesses of water soluble interfacing. This was really fun!

IMG_20161206_190936

Then you cut them out and run them under the tap.

The finished flower. The key ring has nothing to do with it, but it curls a bit so I used that to weight it for the photo.

DSCN2563

Then I made a start on a wrap top in a blue satiny polyester (it was a freebie with a sewing magazine), and soon realised I'd confused the first two hems. Luckily Claire very patiently helped me unpick them. It wasn't clear which side I was supposed to start on, as the front piece is almost symmetrical about the centre axis. Luckily there wasn't much damage and it will be hidden in the facing hopefully. There's no deadline for this top luckily. The magazine said you could make this in a shiny polyester, but as the front has a twist there's going to be a very clear wrong and right side showing. Will have to see how it turns out.

Excited to wear the Vogue dress and get some proper photos of it on Saturday. Watch this space!

Current mood: enthralled