Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Introducing probably George

Pretty much everything Spadgersdottier has is named George. Now recently she made a teddy at the bear factory and named it Boris which was a surprise but I am holding out hope that this gentleman will be named George.

"Is this my good side?"

He is my first knitted toy. He's made from Cygnet wool rich 4 ply (yellow) and a huge cone of wool I got at a charity shop (green). He is also my first ever stripes and loop stitch. Maybe this makes him George the first.

"This is me looking pensive"
He's a bit of a camera tart so I leave you with some of his favourite shots. He wouldn't let me post the bad ones hehehe

"Yeah I'm stripy"

"Man I'm pretty"

Too warm to clean

I am so tired. The temperature here has been hovering around 28C/82F during the day and 14C/57F during the night. That is so much warmer than I am happy with on both counts. To put it in perspective this winter, the worst one in this country since the winter of my birth, we had the heating set at 17C/62F at it's highest and dropped it to 15C/59F whenever we could. The heat stops me sleeping properly hence the tired. It's funny, I once spent 7 weeks abroad in 40C/104F and while I was definitely warm I wasn't as uncomfortable as I am now. We have a very wet heat here in the UK. We're a wet country as a whole but in summer that makes it sticky.

So I am trying my best to not be grumpy and to just get on with things. I have just finished of scrubbing our house to within an inch of it's life. We get so busy and so involved with our various projects that the tidying has a tendency to get put off. (I would like to point out that we are not total scutters we just get behind a bit :oD) I spent Sunday cleaning and organising the upstairs, yesterday was the kitchen. As you may know our kitchen is very small which makes every task seem monumental as there is no room to do anything. I intend to re-organise all the cupboards and shelves as well as scrubbing everything, tonight was the living room. It's all done now except for my sewing pile which is a task unto itself.

Ah well, it;s 00:15, its cleaned, made bread and backed my boss a birthday cake. I'm off to bed folks!

Monday, 28 June 2010


This weekend was Woolfest. This is my first trip to the fibre festival and it was a wonderful experience. The trip was organised by my local wool shop as a celebration of their 1st birthday. Happy birthday Baaramewe. They run a knit night every Thursday which I used to go to with S~ every week. However since she stopped being able to go I've not been either. I really should start going again and think I will do as part of my to do list. It will give me dedicated time to get through the knitted portion of the list :o) The last time I went I was knitting a top for myself but that is not a suitable project for public knitting. There is so much counting involved that I really can't socialise at the same time. It would be the perfect time to do Spadger's cardigan as it's just garter stitch.

Pretty baby cardigan

Anyhoo, back to Woolfest. There was a lot of fibre in a more raw state than I can use. Everything from fleeces to roving. Now I don't really have time for any more crafts so spinning and felting are out. However my Momma bought me a peg loom so weaving is now on the cards. I made a picture frame loom ages ago but found that really cumbersome. The peg loom looks much easier to use. My first project on it is going to be weaving a strap for Spadgersdottier's birthday present from her dad. I should really do a plain one but I'm never happy with that so I've found some patterns already :o)

Needles in every size and length

The first stall we stopped at was one offering patterns for a donation. The cause was medicins sans frontieres. Organisations like this and doctors without borders have my utmost respect. I picked up 3 patterns, made a donation and took a pic of this very cheerful lady working the stall. She seemed very pleased to be asked for a pic

"No one loves me because I'm not a sheep"

"I say Jeff look at that!"

I splashed out for myself on a skein of hand spun wool. It's merino, yak, soy and sparkle. These are the kind of things I look at but don;t buy as I can't justify them. But Woolfest was all about frippery for me. I also bought 2 really large skeins of undyed Blue Faced Leicester which I want to have a go at hand dying. With that in mind I bought 2 mordants. And, since I have a mad love affaire with buttons I bought some lovely floral ones. My Momma also splashed out on some buttons for me. We were at a vintage stall and I was having a good rummage around. I adore buttons and some old ones are truly lovely. Now as a general rule vintage buttons are well out of my price range but I do like to have a look just to see the pretties. My Momma tried to be sneaky and buy me one set that I fell in love with but it's hard to sneak up to the sales people when you're wearing a bright pink dress. They are circa 1890-1910 and were £18. Aren't they stunning? I think I'm going to save these to go on a really nice coat once I'm skilled enough to make one. They look like nice coat buttons.

This is an Angora goat. Yeah I thought sheep too.

There were lots of animals there. Sheep in every flavour, angora goats, angora rabbits and alpacas. I love alpacas!!! However despite my love of all things goaty I do not like angora goats. I mistook it for a sheep. It was only when Momma pointed out the ears I realised it really was a goat. Goats should look like goats!

Angora bunny

Smile for the camera

Isn't this a face you can love? Alpacas are just the most adorable things, even without their fur.

Basket weaving

Fluffy roving

And some more

Roving balls!

One more alpaca, just because :o)

Quote of the Day

Kurt Cobain - "Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are."

This is one of those things that appears at the top of my Gmail. Quite liked this one.

Friday, 25 June 2010

The peas are taller than me

Don't I look happy about it!

The to do list is go

Did you see the list? Oh yeah baby. I know I am incredibly sad for loving lists so much but they definitely give me a sense of purpose. What is there is only what I could think of off the top of my head. I will need to have a good rummage around the sewing boxes to get a few more ideas. I haven't put them in any order, that was just too complicated. I did however go and learn the CSS required to make them the pretty colours you see. Feeling quite proud of that.

Currently there are only sewing projects up there. I do intend to post knitting projects and jewellery ones as well. I've been really lax with my jewellery lately. I think this is because I can't sell anything til I have everything set up for photos. I was rather intimidated by the photos on Folksy so I want to make sure mine are good.

The plan for the list is to put the date up every time I add new things to it. Then when I complete one of them I will write a post on it and remove it from the list. All the project posts will be available in an archive once I figure out how to do that hehehe

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Tweaking with Blogger

Ok so I've started what will probably be a lengthy tweak with my layout. I used to be able to do HTML but now it's all CSS I'm a tad lost. However I shall persevere. If anything gets too awful please shout up!

My love of lists

I am the kind of person who works best when there is a list. I like to be able to tick things off when they are done. A nice neat pile of things to do on my desk at work is the equivalent joy. If I am really busy I will get sidetracked really easy without a list. This is the reason I have got sewing apathy at the moment. There is so much I want to do that I just can't get started with anything. So I think I'm gonna go through my sewing box and write myself a list of things to do. Ideally I'll write it out in the order I want to tackle them.

There are items for me, Spadgersdottier, Spadger, 2 little girls I know A~ and R~ who are going to be the recipients of many stash busting items and I might even get a head start on Christmas.

Now as much as I like lists I am also the mistress of working under pressure at the last minute. Without the pressure I can get sidetracked (again) and then end up doing things at the last minute even though I had loads of time. Procrastination is an evil thing!

So a list it is. I might see if I can wedge it into blogger somewhere so you can all see my progress and prod me when I start slacking. Virtual sticks make me work hehehehe

Tuesday, 22 June 2010


hegira \he-JAY-ruh\ , noun;
1.A journey to a more desirable or congenial place.

This just popped up on those little bars you get in Gmail as the word of the day. I like it.

Monday, 21 June 2010

I think it fits quite well

The dress on S~. Not bad if I do say so myself.

Race for life photos

Before we started (I'm on the left if you're interested)

The warm up

Setting off :o)

The last corner (I'm not smiling I'm gritting my teeth hehehe)

And over the finish line

Sunday, 20 June 2010

A tudor dress with 24 hours notice

16:04 yesterday
One dress and petticoat completed. I managed to go to the farm for a day, complete a 5K charity race and draft and sew these in 2 days. Now it's not my neatest of sewing by any stretch nor is it very historically accurate. Both of those things gall me slightly. However it should do. Next time (if there is one) I have told Spadgersdottier that I need plenty of notice. Then maybe I can turn out a masterpiece.

Race for LIfe

Well it's over. I have humiliating photos to come. I completed the 5K course in 45 mins and did about 50/50 walking and jogging. I'm feeling rather pleased with myself and am off for a lie down now. If anyone wants to make a last minute donation click on the link in the sidebar!

Friday, 18 June 2010


Got to knock up a Tudor gown in 24 hours-ish for Spadgersdottier. No pressure!

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Dante's 7th circle of hell

Ok so that might be a slight exaggeration. Oh wait a minute, you guys have no idea what I'm talking about right? Let me introduce you to the dress I've made for my friend S~. Ain't she pretty?

This is a modified version of a dress I've made for myself several times. In my case there are 4 darts in it which allows the material to accommodate the girls. The actual pattern has only the pleats at the neckline in it which works for S~. Instead of making the 8 gore skirt that is on the pattern S~ wanted a full circle skirt. So I learnt how to grade patterns and made it 4 sizes smaller. I then took it in where necessary. The shoulder seams on this pattern do not go together how the instructions say I don't care what the pattern people may have to say about this. With a bit of fiddling I managed to sew the neatest shoulder seams I have done to date though.

I messed up the circle by following dodgy instructions for a half circle (the skirt is made of 2 halves) which left me with a waist measurement double the size it should be. Ah well, better too big than too small. I gathered it onto the waistband. I made a placket-type-facing thing so the zip could extend into the skirt where there was no seam. I spent about an hour pinning in the zip and still managed to miss parts of the lining when sewing it (s'ok I'll slip stitch those when I'm done with the rest). I put in a hook and eye like you're supposed to. I did a messed up hong kong finish on the waist seam. Basically I've done lots of things like you should be I never bother with for my own stuff (will do in future though) and learnt stuff to boot.

Just spent the last 20 mins trying to sort out the tension as it had gone all kinds of wrong. With a bit of help from Google and the manual I figured it out.

No matter what I do the side seams do not all meet up on this pattern. I've made 4 incarnations of it now an not one of them has all 3 lining up!

And now we're on today (Thursday). I took the dress round to S~ yesterday and to my slight disappointment it wasn't quite right. I know, professional seamstresses don't fit things perfectly after 1 fitting so why should I? Anyhoo it was too big rather than too small which is always preferable. I stuck some giant safety pins in it to fit it but forgot to get her to take it off and turn it inside out. No matter. When I got home i simple drew chalk lines down the fold on the inside, unpinned it and then matched the chalk marks when re-pinning it. Now to alter the dress correctly I would have course need to unpick the whole thing virtually and make the adjustments. I'm sure you can understand why I didn't. I is a mighty shame though as doing it the quick and easy way does mean I have ruined the major neatness I had going on. It still looks pretty good though. After I had taken it in I ironed the excess to the back and then slip stitched it flat. So it still looks pretty neat. From the outside it looks pretty perfect down one seam but there is an extra seam line visible on the other side. However you would only notice it if you were looking. All in all this is the piece I am most proud of. S~ gave me kudos for the zippage and was pleased with the gathered waistline. She also really liked the neckline and said it felt really comfortable. Considering I went at it with a reckless abandon that makes me feel quite good.

Now the title of the post comes from hemming the darn skirt. Man there was a lot of skirt!!! I'd like to say a big thanks to Gertie for her fabulous video tutorial for a narrow hem on a circle skirt. Yes it involved twice as much sewing than I really wanted to do but it was so worth it. Look at this beauty. Not a wrinkle or twist in sight!

* Just to let you know this is an on going post that was started on Tuesday so it might seem a bit sketchy time wise

Friday, 11 June 2010

Body Image

Ooh it's a dangerous subject. But it's been floating round my head for a few weeks so I thought I would tackle it. I guess it's a natural progression from the dress form really. The more I sew the more aware of my body I am. I kinda wish I had discovered sewing earlier, might have sorted out the typical girlie issues sooner.

My first thought when I started sewing was one of horror as I looked at the pattern envelopes to get my size. Now I'm gonna be very straightforward here and tell you all my measurements. Currently I stand at 42" - 35" - 44". This means I have put a bit more padding on my ass of late as my top and bottom used to be identical. These measurements stack up at around a 20/22. Man that knocked the wind out of my sails let me tell you. So I dutifully cut this out for my first pattern. It was a disaster. Apparently having a 42" bust means I am built like a linebacker. So I did some research and found out the one fact that changed the way I looked at patterns. They are all designed for a B cup. This means that those 42" are spread all around the circumference of the body pretty much. Now I can tell you in my case most of them are out front! If you are above a B cup one of the best things to do is an FBA (full bust adjustment). This is easier on some patterns than others but I think I have the hang of it now. To get the correct pattern size now I have to measure my high bust which is around my back and above my bust. On me this is 38" which puts me at a size 16 on pattern envelopes. By doing this the arm holes and neckline actually fit. Then I just add the inches where I need them with the FBA. It sounds far more complicated than it is. But it is certainly worth the effort as the end result is a garment that fits.

This is the crucial point I have discovered as I learn how to make clothes. It is not my body that is the problem it is the clothes. RTW clothes are made to fit a general size; my body is not general, it is mine. I go in and out in a way that no other body does. So how in the heck do I expect something off the rack to fit me? My first reaction when trying on clothes though is one of disgust at my own body and frustration. It gets even worse as I can be a totally different size in several shops. How does that work?!?! A long time ago I stopped looking at the number on my clothing labels. I still have the occasional hissy fit but not many.

A few years back I put on a lot of weight. I went up to 13 and a half stones (189 pounds). When I went and bought some clothes that fit instead of squeezing into smaller stuff I was instantly assured by everyone that I had lost weight. Since then I have lost all the extra and gone down to 11 stone (154 pounds) and then gone back up to and settled at 12 - 12 stone 4 (168 - 172 pounds). During that time I have gone up (and stayed up) 4 cup sizes. I think this accounts for the fact that I am heavier now than I was but I have had to put extra holes in my belt as it was too big!! During that time I have had to really evaluate how I feel about my body and my clothes. I am currently at the end of a love affair with stretch fabrics. They're good, don't get me wrong, but I think tailoring is the way forward if I'm making stuff myself. Making my own clothes also means I want them to look good. You put up with bad fit issues with RTW as you have no choice. If my sweat and tears and swearing and occasional blood is going into the clothes on my back they had better make me look fabulous. So it takes longer to make faffing with the fit, it's worth it in the end. To make something fit you have to honest with yourself about your body. No breathing in when taking measurements. No convincing yourself that your measurements haven't changed in 10 years. Making myself a dress form means I have to be honest. When looking at a duplicate of myself it's very hard to lie about anything.

Since I started sewing I started paying a lot more attention to what my clothes are telling me rather than what the scales say. So I'm 2 stone over the top weight I should be for my BMI, so what? If a Dr tells me to lose weight I will. Until then I'll judge myself by my trousers. They fit when I bought them and I was lighter, now they fall off. Clearly my weight is not a good indicator of my waist :o)

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Vera mark one - Fail

So after what felt like hours being incased in gaffer tape we then left the lovely Vera without a base or any stuffing for ages and last night when we came to stuff her she seemed to be entirely the wrong measurements. I'm sure the slow collapse she was suffering can't be responsible for it but I can't think of anything else. Maybe the tape was too thick. Seem impossible that coudl have added so much width to the form though.

Ah well.

Plan B involves the left over chicken wire from the chicken coop/run. I imagine the process will be even more uncomfortable than the gaffer tape one and there is a high chance of scratches. But in theory we can mould it perfectly to me. We'll then fill it with bits of winter duvet we had cut up for Vera mark one and then I plan to cover it with the vast amount of black with white dots spotty material I bought one day totally forgetting that my machine only sews straight stitch and this stretchy material will need a zigzag!

Hopefully I'll ahve a dress form to show you soon!

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

A wet garden

Just a few garden pics for you. It's rained for the last few days which is kinda nice but we could use a little sunshine now. That's the main problem with the weather in the UK, it's all or nothing.

I made yoghurt

I'd like to thank Kirsten for her offer of help. I had to go look up what a Crock Pot was :o) I did pretty much the same thing though with a sink full of hot water and a thick towel. Necessity is the mother of invention and all that.

Jackie, I wish I had access to raw goats milk, I love the stuff. I never had yoghurt made from it but I bet it's divine. I believe adding milk powder makes the yoghurt more creamy. I really like greek yoghurt so leaving it to incubate all night seemed to do the trick for me. I might try it with milk powder one day just to see what a difference it makes.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Yoghurt take 3

I have a yoghurt factory in my kitchen sink. This is my 3rd go at yoghurt and I have high hopes for it. I got the milk up to the right temp, cooled to the right temp, mixed with plenty of starter and in a warm environment to incubate.

Fingers crossed!

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Day of rest?

Isn't Sunday supposed to be the day of rest? It doesn't seem to be here. We work Monday to Friday, Saturday is spent at the farm or working on our own garden and Sunday seems to be the day of cleaning and baking. So much so that for the last few weeks Spadger has been taking Spadgersdottier home on his own. There is just too much to do for me to be a passenger in a car for 3 hours.

Right now I have just take a pie out of the oven (leftover cabbage and rabbit since you asked), there are 2 batches of bread on the oven top rising, I could do with making some muffins, the kitchen floor really needs cleaning and I have a hat to sew tonight and should really get started on a dress I'm making for my friend S~. Not much then.

Hat = finished, banana and sunflower seed muffins = finished but slightly over cooked due to finishing hat, bread = rising nicely.

Next step is to make another batch of muffins, different flavour this time and to clean the kitchen floor. By the time I've done that the bread should be ready for shaping.

the rhubarb muffins became a loaf which is now done. The bread is on it's second rise. I've vacuumed the kitchen floor but not scrubbed it. Frankly I can't be bothered right now. All that is left is for the bread to go in the oven and there are 2 lots so that is still a bit of time yet before I am done. However other things can be done during cooking time. Serious stuff, like watching Family Guy. I'm tired dude and just want to crash with some televisual rubbish. Not having a tv puts a dampener on that. I only miss the telly when I'm really tired and just want something to occupy my brain without me having to actually think. So DVD time it is.

There have been a few other interesting things in my kitchen of late. Here you can see the last batch of failed yoghurt. This time it all thickened but the texture was off. Usually when you stick your finger in a pot of yoghurt it sticks, this didn't. I looked it up and I think I know what I did wrong. All the instructions tell you to heat your milk to 185 ish and then cool it to 120. The only reason for this that I could see was to make sure any nasties had been killed. Seen as I'm making it with store bought pasteurized stuff that didn't seem necessary. Actually the heat denaturalizes the milk so it will become yoghurt. Who knew! So I am turning the whole lot into labna which is a kind of really thick yogurt, almost cheese.

Behind the picture of the pie you can see a pink silicone mold. This currently has a batch of soap in it. This is the second one I have made this week. The first was half olive oil half coconut oil which is for me, this batch is pure olive oil which is for Spadger. I like the silicone molds as you don't need to grease them either for soap making or indeed cooking. I'm not a fan of the loaf tin for baking as it's so flexible it's really easy to spill stuff over yourself while trying to get it to the oven. It is now my favourite soap mold.

As you can see below, I have a few other silicone molds that I use. Aren't they pretty?