My new Alpaca Chunky Cowl | Sunspun Yarns

Sunspun Alpaca Cowl | Spunspun Yarns (pattern)

Sunspun Alpaca Cowl | Spunspun Yarns (pattern)

So when everyone else’s hearts are singing for joy as the trees begin to blossom, what have  just done? I’ve finished a superbly thick, divinely yummy and soft, alpaca cowl that will keep me warm through the chilly nights and days to come. Ahem… what!!! Well, it’s not all bad, because realistically, we do have quite a few cold spells to live through before we can, with authority, pronounce winter as being behind us.

Cowl doubled over

Cowl doubled over

I used two skeins of Rowan Alpaca Chunky, that I picked up at my favourite yarn haunt, Sunspun Yarns a month or so ago, along with their own pattern for the cowl, and I’m just thrilled with it, I must say. It’s really nice to wear, and I love how it sits nice and flat when I wear it as a long loop, rather than doubled over. I was worried it might stand away a little to much, which on me looks kinda wrong. You know what I mean, yeah? Like it would look quite OK if I was about 6 inches taller, and about 2 dress sizes smaller up top.

Looks great with my fave trench coat!

Looks great with my fave trench coat!

Close-up

Close-up

Anyway, moving right along… I do love it. Took me a little over 2 evenings to finish. Not a bad little project. Very manageable. And when it came time to sew it up into a moebius strip, I used this tutorial for mattress stitch. Worked really well.

So, now I have something that I’ve knit myself, and that’s lovely and warm to wear to The Craft Sessions in a couple of weeks. I so can’t wait!!!

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My current crush – Fashionary

Fashionary-Spring-2014-01

Yep, well, things didn’t turn out quite as I had hoped. I haven’t gotten to start my Lady Skater dress yet, and not only that, but I’ve not been able to do anything crafty for a few months now. Hence, no blog post for weeks and weeks! I developed symptoms of a genetic eye condition I’ve just discovered I have. Quite painful, especially at night. I won’t go into details, in case you get a bit squirmy over that kind of stuff, so please do keep reading. The only thing I’ll say is that I had surgery a couple weeks ago, and although we’re hoping that it will have handled the problem, at least for many years to come, I’m still getting used to seeing with my newly made-over eyes. Long distance is clear as a bell, beautiful in fact. But up close, my vision has gone from manageable to completely blurry, and I have to wear these crummy magnifiers I picked up at the chemist until I see the surgeon again on the 19th of this month.

So now that I have the ability to sit at my computer again, albeit for short bursts at a time, I thought I’d share with you some of what I got up to, right before all that started.

First, to preamble, over at Stitch 56, we’ve got a fabulous project going. Our brand new Blog Writers Team is posting about planning their sewing for the upcoming Aussie spring wardrobe. The fabulous Donna from Sew Independent got the party going with a post about using her Fashionary to do her planning. She has some gorgeous sketches, and as I was reading through her post to publish it, I got all inspired. Out came my Fashionary that I haven’t really touched for months, and I grabbed my favourite pencil and eraser, and began sketching like there was no tomorrow!

I decided to create my own Spring wardrobe, well actually, a Springtime Holiday Wardrobe for our upcoming trip to Adelaide and the Barossa Valley with some friends. Above you can see the first page I did. And see those little ticks next to most of the things on this page? They mean that I’ve already sewn that piece. The others are items I plan on making – if my eyes allow me too! I’m a little terrified of sewing on my machine, or hand sewing, if my near vision is still crap. Picturing all kinds of nasty things!

However. Not to dwell on the downside of things. Clearing my head, and moving forward… I reckon that if I have the above pieces all done, I’ll be pretty much set for our 5-day trip. Would you like to know what all the pieces are? OK, here’s the line-up. I’ve copied the image from above here, so you don’t have to do major scrolling up and down!

Fashionary-Spring-2014-01

  • Left page // left : Hawthorn Dress (Colette Patterns) in Liberty Tana Lawn Strike (Shaukat) with red linen contrast collar and self belt with red linen buckle – DONE
  • Left page // middle : Sorbetto Top (Colette Patterns) in a pretty light blue linen (Tessuti) with appliqued motif in Liberty Tana Lawn Stanley (Shaukat) – DONE
  • Left page // middle : Zinnia Skirt (Colette Patterns) in Liberty Tana Lawn Stanley (Shaukat) – DONE
  • Left page // right : Judy Top (Tessuti) in light blue linen (Tessuti) – nearly finished
  • Left page // right : Moss Skirt (Grainline Studio) in teal linen (Tessuti) with Liberty Tana Lawn Stanley lining (Shaukat) – still to make
  • Right page // left : Scout Top (Grainline Studio) in Valori Wells Wish Voile – DONE
  • Right page // left : Black pants (RTW from The Ark Clothing Company) – HAVE
  • Right page // middle : Sorbetto Top (Colette Patterns) in navy rayon (Fabric.com) – DONE
  • Right page // middle : Julie Pants (StyleArc) in navey bengaline (StyleArc) – still to make

So now I’ve got my plan laid out for me, and I know exactly what to work on. Mind you, in the meantime, I’m going to The Craft Sessions in 4 weeks (are you going too?), which I just can’t wait for, and I still need to finish some mid-seasonal items to pack for that! Back to the drawing board, except that I’m not sure I can see clearly enough to draw anything right now. Might have to handle all that with basically a scribbled list on a sheet of scratch paper. I’ll let you know how I go. Fingers crossed!

Now, you might think I stopped there. You know, I mean with only one double spread in my Fashionary. U-uh! I couldn’t stop drawing! I pulled out my iPad, opened Evernote with my list of patterns, and just drew and drew and drew! Take a look at this:

Fashionary-Spring-2014-03

And this…

Fashionary-Spring-2014-02

And there’s more! After another couple of spreads, I decided I had to STOP! I was being a little silly. After all, my hobby is SEWING!!! not drawing, and think of all the sewing time I was missing out while I was busy sketching! Crazy! So I closed the book, and put it away. I do still keep looking at it all though. Can’t help myself. I’m loving all those little figures with their petite little feet, and long elegant arms. And besides, I’m really excited, because for the first time, I’m creating a coordinated way to pick what I sew, and not do it just higgledy piggledy. Very excited! Do you have a Fashionary? How do you use yours? Do you just love it to bits too?

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Lady Skater Dress | A Sanctioned Copycat

Sticky-taping pattern for Lady Skater in chocolate brown jersey

Sticky-taping pattern for Lady Skater in chocolate brown jersey

It was almost a year ago that I first came across Sophie from the well-read “Cirque-du-Bébé” blog. She had just posted her stunning pics of her Lady Skater dress, a pattern I’d been thinking about making. She’d used a gorgeous chocolate-brown knit from The Fabric Store. After emailing Sophie to ask if she minded my copying her, she graciously said “no problem!” I immediately called the shop in Melbourne, but they’d sold out, so I quickly tried the Brisbane shop, and ta-dah! they had some still in stock, and shipped it out to me. Since then, I met up with Sophie at The Craft Sessions last year, where I took two classes with her to get myself back into sewing again, after a couple decades of nothing. She’s just fabulous. Had a great time with her, and apart from making my first of several Wiksten Tank Tops, I learnt heaps about sewing with knits.

Now, I know I’d pledged to make a couple of other patterns this month for Me-Made-May’14, but I’ve had some time-drains these past couple of weeks, and everything I’d planned kinda went out the window. One little delicious interruption has been my new grandson, as you know, but then I’ve also been dealing with horrible stinging eye problems at night, and a bit of a cold too.

However, since there’s no pressure or failure allowed in MMM, I’m going to just move on, and get something done. I reckon this dress is just perfect. It’s a quick make, from what I’ve read around the traps, and my fabric is the perfect weight for this time of year. I can throw a cardi on if it’s a bit cooler, or leave it off for these insane over-20°C days we’re continuing to have here!

Oh, and by the way, I’m not saying I did, but I might have bought some Liberty fabric last night as I was pouring over the interwebs at all the different Lady Skater dresses. In particular, this one by Paunnet, and this one (minus the “hacked for nursing” bit of course!) by Lauren on Baste + Gather, and this one by Lauren on Lladybird. All short-sleeved makes of the pattern, and I’ve been loving the Kilburn Rose pattern in Liberty tana lawn for ages now, so when I saw it in Dufour Viscose Jersey, I thought I should get it, before it disappears of the face of the earth, like so many of my other favourites have done! (Lessons I’ve Learned #53: if you really love it, and want to avoid deep disappointment, grab it while it’s still available!)

I also added in a few other fabrics I have been wanting, but this time, instead of buying 20 million metres of each, as I usually do (you know, for “just in case the pattern I end up using needs more”), I checked out my patterns, and bought only as much as each one said. I’ve just watched a little free video called “Things to Bear in Mind When Choosing Fabric” on Susan Khalje‘s website, and I’m changing my ways! I mean, what am I going to do with all those bits of fabric I’m left with at the end of a project!

Liberty fabric purchase form Shaukat

Liberty fabric purchase form Shaukat

Here’s what I bought…

  1. Mabelle J – Tana Lawn – - Butterick B6026 shirt in the sleeveless version
  2. Kilburn Rose – Dufour Viscose Jersey – Lady Skater dress
  3. Jody B – Tana Lawn – Vogue Patterns V1323 top
  4. Jack and Charlie A – Tana Lawn – I want to do something a bit rad with this, not just a plain shirt. Thinking the Vogue Patterns V9004 top, and make the sleeves longer, but cuffless, just a fold-over with button closure.
  5. Mabelle A – Tana Lawn - Butterick B6026 shirt in the sleeveless version. I know, it’s the same as the first one in Mabelle, but I don’t mind having two shirts in the same pattern, do you do that sometimes? I’ll see though, might change my mind when I get to making it.

OK, back to finish sticky-taping the pattern!

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MMM’14 Update plus a little baby news!

Me and baby

Me and baby

Finally! After waiting and waiting and waiting. Due Date + Nineteen Days of waiting! We now have a darling new little grandson! He was born last Sunday in the afternoon. On Mothers Day – perfect, yes? My amazing daughter had stuck to her guns, and allowed her baby to say when he was ready to come out and meet us. After reading and researching and thinking and discussing, she’d armed herself with the knowledge that, for so many reasons, it was best to avoid being induced, best to avoid having a cesarian, and best to allow nature to lead the way.

I am so infinitely proud of my daughter. Her calmness, and her intelligence, her ability to sift through the mountain of opinions out there on the interwebs, and in books and in medical testimony, and do the thinking required to resolve for herself the questions she had about what was going to serve her baby’s best interests. An ambassador for natural versus contemporary fashion dictates, she stood steadfast in her convictions, and without potential stubbornness, faced the concerns and questions of her family and peers with a clear mind, and confident grace that I am so in awe of.

I spent the weekend – well, until about 4pm Sunday when we got The Call to announce baby’s entrance into the world – pacing the floor, trying not to bite my nails, watching the telly, and knitting. On Saturday afternoon, before labour had begun, I couldn’t stand the waiting any longer, and I said to Moshe, “How about coming for a drive with me?” He of course wanted to know where we were headed, and I said, “Surrey Hills.” “Yeah?” he said. “OK.”

So we headed off to Sunspun. As you know, I’d gotten it into my head that I wanted to knit a few little baby hats with little matching booties. I’ve been collecting patterns. Each time the Purlbee newsletter would come round with a newborn pattern, I saved it in a special folder, and lately, I’m sure I’ve spent way too much time on Ravelry, finding new and lovely little patterns that would find their way into the shopping cart.

Purlbee - Heirloom Hats for Newborns - WIP

Purlbee – Heirloom Hats for Newborns – WIP

By Saturday night, I’d already rewound both skeins of Shibui Cima, and cast on the 108 stitches for the first little hat. By Sunday afternoon, walking around the house in my dressing gown, the ball of wool in my pocket, the tiny 12″ 2.75mm circular needle click-clacking as I walked, I’d done about a third of the hat. I desperately wanted to have the hat finished by the time the baby was born, but the little darling popped out and we rushed down to the hospital to meet him.

Purlbee - Heirloom Hats for Newborns in Shibui Cima

Purlbee – Heirloom Hats for Newborns – finished!

So, you can perhaps understand when I say I haven’t really had my attention on Me-Made-May’14? Yeah. I’ve worn a couple of my hand-sewn clothes, but no photos to show for it, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. And as for sewing? Nothing much happening there either. Lucky there’s still half of May left!

Are you doing MMM’14? How are you doing with your pledge?

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A hankering for knitted hats & mittens

Wiksten - Snoflinga Hat

Wiksten – Snoflinga Hat

I woke this morning to no baby (my daughter is now 16 days past her due date, and doing well). Everyone else in the house was still asleep. I did my usual morning run. Feed the dogs, boil the kettle, make a @Whole30 breakfast, and have some “me-time” with my emails.

Brooklyn Tweed - Woodruff Mittens in Shelter Homemade Jam

Brooklyn Tweed – Woodruff Mittens, and Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in Homemade Jam

I actually don’t remember now which email it was exactly that led me down the wool path, but I soon found myself wrapped up in Ravelry and Brooklyn Tweed and Wiksten patterns and yarn choices, and before you could blink an eternity away, I’d clicked and clicked and clicked my way through the checkouts.

Wiksten Cozy Purl Ridge Mittens

Wiksten – Cozy Purl Ridge Mittens

I can’t tell you how many winters I’ve gone without any gloves! Ever since I lost my beautiful Italian yellow kid leather gloves with angora lining, I’ve been trying to get myself another pair. Problem has been that, by the time it’s wintery weather, and I’m reminded that it’s time to start the search again, the shops have already sold out of the size 6 1/2 gloves, and I’m screwed.

Alana Dakos - Oak Trail Hat

Alana Dakos – Oak Trail Hat

Thank goodness for Me-Made-May’14! I’m all inspired with making things for myself again, and I realized that a new hat or two (my very old black beanie is just too sad now) and new gloves are just a couple of clicks, some international shipping travels, and a little knitting time away! Perfect.

I’m also waiting to find out if our new grandchild will be a boy or a girl. As soon as I know, I’ve got these lined up to knit while I wait for my Brooklyn Tweed wool to arrive.

Purl Bee - Newborn Hats

Purl Bee – Newborn Hats

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MMMay’14 | Day 4 – Archer Shirt

MMMay14 - Day 4 - 01

MMMay14 – Day 4 – 01

Last night, I went out for dinner and then on to the movies, wearing my Grainline Studio Archer shirt. RTW dress, and everything else.

MMM-14 - Day 4 - 02

MMM-14 – Day 4 – 02

Tonight, I’m going to tackle the first of my skirts I am making for MMM’14, the red linen. First task is to sort out the pattern pieces, and lay them out on my soon-to-be-ironed fabric. Probably won’t get to do much more than that tonight, after a fabulous day with family celebrating my mother-in-law’s birthday, running around with my little 2-year-old grandson, Austin, who at one point said, in response to me asking him to come to me, “No, I’m busy.”

I wanted to wear something me-made today, but unfortunately, everything’s either summer-weight, or not yet made :)

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Me-Made-May’14 | The Plan

Most of my sewing over the past months has been, appropriately so, for spring/summer wear. Not so much for autumn/winter, which is upon us right now here in Melbourne. So last night, I spent some time pouring over my pattern collection, working out what I really need in my AW wardrobe (which is pretty much everything!!), and thinking about which fabrics would be best for each pattern, as well as all the Craftsy classes I’ve signed up for but haven’t done, and here is my pledge for MMM-14.

I, Helene from 25reasons.net, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’14. I endeavour to wear at least two me-made items each week for the duration of May 2014. I also endeavour to create a proper plan for my winter wardrobe sewing, and make 2 new items to completion from that list.

Now, since I promised to make two complete garments for MMM-14, I thought I’d prepare several patterns, just in case I get stuck with any one of them. And so, without further ado (does anyone still actually say that???), here’s my plan…

me-made-may'14

My Plan

(click on the “Me-Made-May’14″ image just above the “My Plan” heading, and that will take you to the MMM-14 sign-up blog post)

1. Craftsy | Patternmaking Basics: The Skirt Sloper – with Suzy Furrer

Craftsy - Patternmaking Basics - The Skirt Sloper by Suzy Furrer

I will start this class in May, and learn how to make a skirt sloper.

2. V8835 | skirt in Collina Italian wool

V8835 - Collina Italian wool

This skirt should see me through winter, and well into Spring’s still-cool weather. It’s a wrap skirt, and the only thing I need to purchase before I get going is the lining. It’ll be great to wear with a pair of nice thick tights and my new boots. That beautiful wool I purchased from Tessuti‘s last winter will be gorgeous to wrap around myself to create some very winter cozy yumminess.

3. V8835 | skirt in red linen

V8835 - Red linen

V8835 – Red linen

I picked up this remnant piece of lovely linen from the remnant table at Tessuti’s for a mere $24! It’ll be fabulous as a winter skirt. I have to source some fine leather straps, two exactly, to sew across the front flap of the skirt. I think that’ll look really great with my long black boots.

4. V8972 | dress in yellow ponti print, view C

V8972 - yellow ponti print dress view C

V8972 – yellow ponti print dress view C

This is one colourway of a gorgeous ponti print form Tessuti Fabrics. I actually loved it so much, I bought the same fabric in the aqua colour. Will use that for a summer dress I think. Meantime, look! I have a jacket all ready to go with this dress!

Yellow ponti print dress with jacket

Yellow ponti fabric with my boiled wool jacket – isn’t it perfect!

I’m really excited to make it. I think I will love wearing it.

5. BurdaStyle | Overlap Skirt 08/2013 #130

BurdaStyle - Overlap Skirt 08-2013 #130

BurdaStyle – Overlap Skirt 08-2013 #130

And the last piece on my list is this fabulous skirt. I’m going to use this 2.5m “remnant” I picked up from Tessuti’s for just $29.25. It’s poly blend, apparently, and that’s all I know about it, but I think it’ll drape nicely for this skirt. The pattern calls for a separating zipper, but I can’t quite figure out where that will go. I like that it’ll be a fairly “secure” wrap. I think I’m a little past major exposure on sitting, if you know what I mean. I’ll have quite a bit left over from this fabric that I can always use for another skirt or something else down the track.


So, that’s my plan. What do you think? I’ll finish up with a bunch of skirts, and a great dress. I know I’ll be missing some nice tops to wear with the skirts, as well as a couple pairs of pants, but those will come later. Hopefully in June and July, but at the very least, before winter and the cooler weather turns towards spring and summer!

Next I think I need to schedule in my sewing time, otherwise this plan may go the way of oh! so many others, I fear.

See you in May!

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Hi there, it’s been awhile!

Me-Made-May'14-01

Makes I’ve made between September ’13 and now

Well there’s nothing like throwing your hat over the wall to bring you back down to earth! I’ve just signed up for Me-Made-May’14! Here’s what I’ve pledged…

I, Helene from 25reasons.net, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’14. I endeavour to wear at least two me-made items each week for the duration of May 2014. I also endeavour to create a proper plan for my winter wardrobe sewing, and make 2 new items to completion from that list.

You may have noticed a couple of things about this blog. A couple changes? Yes! I completely changed the look of the blog. I hadn’t been happy with the theme I was using for some time, and then the fabulous Heather Lou from Closet Case Files posted about her experiences with changing her blog. I was instantly in love with her colour scheme. I mean that yellow! That haunted me for weeks! Now I know they say that mimickry is the best form of flattery, but I reckoned I couldn’t really get away with copying her beautiful new look. So I set out on a search of my own.

Although I’ve learned heaps about using WordPress, even some code si now no longer beyond me, but if I could find the perfect solution with great support, that was going to be it for me. And I did. I signed up with StudioPress, and bought a theme from PrettyDarnCuteDesign, and worked at it a bit, with excellent support from PDCD and Brad Dalton from WP Sites, and ta-dah! It’s ready. I hope you like it. I’d really love to hear what you think, so please leave me a comment.

So what else did you notice? The fact that I haven’t posted since December last year? Yep. It had all gotten too big to tackle. Every time I thought about blogging my makes – and there have been several in that time – I had to confront the makeover, and it just ended up in the too-hard basket, and never came out. Well, until Heather came along. THank you so much Heather! If it weren’t for you and your yellow that I still covet, this task would have stayed underground!

And then, along comes May, complete with everyone’s “I’m doing ‘Me-Made-May’14!!!” posts, and I decided it was time to get back in the game. So here I am. Nervous about fulfilling my pledge, but taking on board the whole “this is not supposed to be stressful” thing.

Before I get into sharing my plan for Me-Made-May’14, here’s a list of what’s in the image above, things I’ve made since The Craft Sessions last year. From left to right…

  • Wiksten Tank Dress – I made this dress from a linen I picked up on sale from Tessuti‘s in Melbourne a couple years ago. I added a little 2-button tab at the neckline, a pocket with buttoned tab, and I made it in a smaller size than the first one I made.
  • Here’s the first Wiksten Tank Dress I made after my class with Sophie at TCS last September. It’s in a gorgeous Nani Iro double-gauze cotton. I love wearing it because it’s so soft.
  • My second Sorbetto top by Colette Patterns. I used a beautiful shade of pale blue linen for the top, and embellished it with shell buttons and an appliqué flower in a Liberty Tana Lawn. The pants are in a medium-weight linen with a lovely texture. I used Tessuti’s Laura Pant pattern.
  • Next is my first Sorbetto top in a very light woven rayon front, and an Alexander Henry Fulham Road lawn back. I adore wearing this top. I love how it looks on me, and I really love the fabrics. The skirt is a cheap denim from Darn Cheap Fabrics Grainline Studio Moss Skirt. Great pattern! Unfortunately, the skirt became too big for me about a month after I made it, and I had to do a very fast, last-minute, right-before-going-out alteration to take the back seam in about 2-3 inches, and I really messed it up. I can’t wear it any more, and have the Moss skirt pattern on my list for Me-Made-May’14.
  • This is my best-made garment to date. It’s the Colette Patterns Hawthorn dress in Liberty Tana Lawn Strike. Tons of hand-stitching, I added a lining, and I really should write up a separate post about this one.

So… phew! My first ice-breaker post done! I’ll be back in the next day or two with my MMM-14 plan.

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