Who? Who? Whose cute owl dress is this?

OwlDressFrontThis adorable little jumper dress is for my daughter, based on a 1970’s Style 2263 pattern gifted me by a fellow mum.

The fabric is a lightweight small-wale cotton cord, which was purchased at the Knitting and Stitching Show last October. It wasn’t cheap at £16 a metre, but it’s just so cute, it was totally worth the money.

OwlDressBackI didn’t match up the pattern on the back seam, but I’m really ok about that. It seemed random enough to get away with it, and the gathering on the back means that when the dress is worn and in motion, it’s not too noticeable.

 

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Stripey New Zealand cardigan that should have been a jumper

frontViewSince I always like to get a sewing or knitting related souvenir when travelling, I dragged my husband and in-laws to a number of knitting stores when we visited New Zealand in 2011. For a place so full of sheep, I found it more difficult that I would have expected to find places to buy wool.

But in the lovely Art Deco town of Napier, I struck gold twice, ending up with Opossum wool (used to make this cardigan for the baby) and some lovely Aran wool from NZ sheep. The idea was to make a nice, cosy stripey jumper.

However, as often happens when buying materials without a specific pattern in mind, I couldn’t quite find a pattern that matched my vision and the amount of available wool. I did quite like the Caramel pattern on Ravelry and thought it would work well.

The pattern is nicely drafted, with some small touches (like purls at the ‘side seams’ even though it’s knit as one big piece) that make it subtly beautiful. Overall, it is a bit too wide for me at the neck. I have this problem in sewing too and just need to remember to adjust. Since most patterns are based on bust size, and everything gets larger as the pattern is graded up, I tend to get things that fit the bust but are too wide for my shoulders. Anyways, the biggest problem was not with the pattern but the fact I actually didn’t have enough wool. And thus, it’s a short-sleeved cardigan, which isn’t at all what I wanted.

sideViewSo although this has been done for many months, it’s had few trips out of the closet. It’s not quite what I wanted and, let’s be honest, how often is the weather right for a warm woolly but short-sleeved cardigan? On top of that, without any buttons (and as someone who doesn’t own scarf pins), it hung open and wasn’t flattering.

I have at least fixed the last problem with the purchase of some kilt pins and I do like it better draped this way. (I also tried a chopstick one day, which worked rather well, except when it was poking me awkwardly as I reached for things). Worn with a long sleeve t-shirt, it works ok. I don’t love it, but I don’t hate it enough to unpick it and try again. So it goes…

 

The red hat that will last many years… taken down by the hot wash

Alas, the Hat that will last many years and The Toddler Scarf fell victim to the one-two punch of puke and hot wash. The little girl was unwell while out and about, causing her to come home with a bag of clothes covered in puke. And father did what any sensible person would do – put the whole lot in the washing machine. As mum was silly enough to make toddler items out of hand-wash only wool, this is what we ended up with.

I’ll admit – I was gutted and may have even shed a tear over the loss of the hat. But there have been lessons learned as a result and should I make another, you can bet it will be washable wool.

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The hat before, as modelled by Fernando the bear

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and the scarf before

 

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Post puke wash: tiny felted hat and scarf



 

The 5-minute silk shirt

BlackSilkShirt
OK, I admit, that title is a bit misleading. This shirt didn’t take 5 minutes, in total, to make. But it is the first output of my new approach to sewing – the not very imaginatively titled ‘5 minutes a day’ approach.

Pre-baby, I did all my sewing on the weekend. I’d hole up in the bedroom for a few hours with some tea and some music and sew, sew, sew. There is no way my toddler allows that these days, even if I was comfortable with her being only half-supervised in the same room as the hot iron. The problem is, there are only so many free hours after the baby has gone to sleep for partaking of chores, hobbies and relaxing. I couldn’t see myself giving up a large chunk of my evening hours to sewing, as that meant less time for knitting, eating, watching telly, etc etc. And thus the 5-minutes a day commitment was born. I could commit to 5 minutes a day. And those little chunks of sewing time would eventually accumulate to produce a garment. And here’s the proof!

Now, I will admit this took months to finish. Some days I did up to 20 minutes, some days I didn’t do anything. But the principle of regular, small commitments to sewing really worked and I made a shirt I wouldn’t otherwise have made. As other bloggers have noted elsewhere, slowing down also has advantages in terms of quality – I can concentrate and do things right for 5-10 minutes at a time. When I was sewing in large chunks of time, I would gradually accept more mistakes and a lowering of quality in my work.
BlackSilkShirt-CloseupSo some of the sewing on this is really high quality. The fitting – maybe not so much. I did a muslin and an FBA but the arms were just too tight. And rather than cutting completely new ones, I tried to guess and patch bits together and then translate those random adjustments to the pattern and the real fabric. So, the arms are still a bit tight.  I tell myself I’ve only worn it once because it’s winter and a lightweight silk shirt just isn’t warm enough. But I think the fit is also putting me off, because let’s face it, I wear a cardigan for warmth pretty much every day anyways.

The pattern is Vogue, but I’ve packed the envelope away in a box and can’t seem to locate the number on the website so it must be out of print. It has lovely princess seams for shaping and very lovely, proper cuffs with a bound vent and two soft pleats. I made it out of some rather inexpensive black silk I picked up several years ago at the Knitting and Stitching Show. I did think this would be a practice shirt that would lead to many  more, but I’m not in any hurry to take on that amount of work again, especially as the pattern still doesn’t fit right.

Still, I’m pleased with my new approach and pleased that I made a proper, grown up shirt.

 

Possum: Vermin or nice, cosy cardigan?

possumCardigan

Apologies for the low quality shot. Keeping the cat and the baby out of frame was rather difficult and I could only get this slightly out of focus picture

On our trip to New Zealand (before the baby was born), we visited Napier on the North Island. It’s a lovely art deco town along the coast and we spent several days eating at nice wineries, going to the aquarium and browsing the shops. I also dragged my in-laws and poor husband to Opposum World. Part shop and part life-sized diorama of the destruction caused to native wildlife in NZ by opposums, it was an unusual stop on the tourist trail. But they sold wool – or rather, yarn made of opposum.

Say what you will about the little critters, they make a lovely, soft, drapey knitting yarn.

This cardigan (the Posy Cardi – Ravelry link) was knit from that lovely possum wool. It’s a cosy extra layer, but the 3/4 length sleeves, dropped neckline and asymmetrical closure at the top only, means it’s not the warmest cardigan to wear this winter. But for being comfy around the house, it’s perfect. The possum wool fibres are short, which probably adds to the softness and drape, but does mean it feels like it may stretch and in some cases break threads. Nevertheless, it was lovely to knit with and feels rather nice against the skin.

So, if you get the chance to buy some possum wool, don’t pass it up. Those varmint have a purpose after all.

Winter is coming: the toddler scarf

llamaScarfIt is somewhat suddenly cold the past few weeks and the nursery has asked for all manner of cold and wet winter gear to be sent with the kids. Having knit “The Red Hat that Will Last Many Years” last year, all that was missing was a scarf. I have to admit – I’m a bit scared of scarfs for kids, because they seem more a choking hazard than a necessary accessories. But Ravelry brought up all manner of patterns for toddler scarves, so I jumped in.

I made the Banana Squish scarf  because it seemed simple, quick and I liked the keyhole feature. It was a predictably quick knit and used up some of the leftover Peruvian llama wool I used to make myself a cardigan way back when I had more time for such things. Not a lot more to say, except doesn’t Fernando look fetching in this photo?

The Wurm hat – odd name, great hat

wurmHatThis Wurm hat (pattern available in Ravelry) was a gift to my sister-in-law, who has had to undergo chemo this past month. I wasn’t sure it would be suitable or comfortable – most advice is to avoid wool, which can be scratchy on a newly sensitive scalp. I used Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino on the basis that babies also have pretty sensitive skin and my sister-in-law has assured me it was comfortable enough to wear.

It’s an incredibly simple pattern – a few rows knit stitch and a few rows purl, all done in the round. The clever bit is the band, which folds in on itself like the hem on a skirt. It’s a more sturdy band than many, and a neater finish too. Might use this technique again elsewhere.

Not much more to say about it really.

But on the subject of cancer, this is the third person close to me in the past couple of years who has been affected by cancer – which is pretty crap. If you’re feeling generous, consider giving a few quid (or dollars, or whatever currency) to Cancer Research UK.