On 2016

Hello friends! It is a new year, and there is time for thinking about the old one. Gillian at Crafting a Rainbow runs an annual sewing top 5 series for blogging reflections, which I did in a more formal way last year but, yeah, it’s already 2017, that’s not happening. However, we’ll have some basic favourites and reflections at least, because I like reflecting on things.


I made a bra! It was a few months ago, but I’ve had some issues with the getting photos business – I finally got a few poor-quality photos the week before Christmas. The socks are so wonderful, although I put a hole in the toe today – time for some darning! The dress speaks for itself (witchy dress!). The top in the middle has been an absolute staple for class time. And that hat is dearly beloved because I’ve never been a person who wears woolly hats before, and my ears thank me greatly for it.


This dress gets an honorary place here as my Favourite Make Ever. It’s two years old, and has all sorts of things that are not perfect about it (because my skills are much better now) but I absolutely love how I feel when I’m wearing it, to such an extent that I almost bought the same fabric again when I saw it in the store last week (for the first time since 2014 – it was odd).


I’m going to start with my 2016 goals – that’s easy.

1: Sustainability. Well, I’ve definitely repaired things more this year – in particular, my increasing stash of knitted socks – but I haven’t been thinking so much about where my fabric comes from or using scrap stash. I think there’s more work to do on this one (moves it into 2017 goals pile…)

2: Self-drafting. Hahaha that hasn’t happened. It’s not going to happen next year either – I am getting more confident with alterations, but full-on self-drafting takes too much time for my life at this point (med student and all). To be honest I’d forgotten this was a plan. Although now I think of it, I did make up a number of knitting patterns this year, so it’s not entirely a lost cause.

3: Learn other textile crafts. I deliberately left this vague to have room for whatever drew me last year, and that worked out well for me. I have learnt to spin, although I have not yet spun enough quantity for any sort of garment, and I embroidered one of my Christmas presents (and it was stunning – can’t wait to show you a photo).

4: Make a coat. I did not do this one – it is sitting, cut and begun, but I didn’t begin sewing until at least September and I just didn’t have the motivation to keep going when it was no longer winter. This one will be 2017 as well.

5: Make my own wardrobe basics. I did this, to an extent I’m not sure I expected – cardigans, class clothes, merino tops, undies, tights even… and a bra. Which I’m surprised I didn’t specify as its own goal, actually. I definitely want to make more bras, and more staples. It’s pretty rewarding having basic clothes that fit me well and are comfortable and that I made (and that are almost all merino, too. I love that stuff).

Other reflections – It’s been a busy year. I gave over a couple of months of sewing time to make bridesmaids skirts for one of my flatmates, and that turned out to be a bad idea – the problem wasn’t actually the making of them, as they were pretty simple, it was that I said yes to a thing without knowing what my workload was going to be without that thing, and therefore took on way too much (I agreed before I’d started the class year – turns out placement is super intense and I hardly sew when I’m on it, especially things for other people. Who would have guessed).

I have knitted a lot this year. To the best of my memory, it was 5 pairs of socks and one slippers, 2 sweaters, 1 hat, and my first ever shawl, as well as learning to spin, darning some of said knitted items, and doing a little embroidery (since I’m using a hand spindle, these all take up the same time slots as knitting, to some extent – although I don’t often spin when I’m out of the house). Welp, that’s a lot of productive. I have some pretty high knitting goals for the next year, but looking at what I’ve achieved actually makes them seem manageable!

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve actually got a pretty functional wardrobe, and most of it is handmade – I can’t remember the last day I wore nothing I made (it helps that I’ve made all of my favourite underwear). So I’d like to focus on bigger projects, and slower sewing, and making things that I love.

2017 Goals

1. Make a coat. Yep, this is straight from 2016.

2. Spin enough yarn for a full garment. I’m thinking a bulky winter shawl or a cardigan/sweater here – something soft and warm and entirely mine.

3. Sustainability. Darn. Mend. Track down where fabric’s coming from. Buy second-hand.

4. One Year One Outfit. This is moonlight has been hosting this challenge for two years now where you aim to make one outfit in the year from entirely locally sourced fabric, dyes, and notions. I have no idea if she’s hosting it again this year, but I am aiming to do it anyway. For me, in New Zealand, this mostly means wool. I’ve been experimenting with producing fibre from NZ flax recently, but I’m not sure where I’d go next, so maybe that might be an option? I also picked up a book on natural dying, written by a New Zealander, on New Year’s Day, so here’s to experimentation.

Four is enough. I have a side goal of blogging more often – the problem’s been my lack of camera, though, and I haven’t yet solved that, so we’ll see how that goes.

Happy new year!


I’m in a thoughtful mood at the moment. I’m on holiday, with no home work at all for the first time since January, and that leaves me plenty of time for musing on my weekends. So here’s a sampling of my thoughts.

  1. I am very overambitious when it comes to free time. I’m working essentially a 9 to 5 job at the moment (it’s a little more complicated than that, as it’s a research thing and I get a grant rather than a wage, but more or less job-like), and I still expect myself to sew, and knit, and write and spin (spinning is my new thing) and read, and be able to socialise. This weekend, as a case in point: I went to my friend’s house for a birthday yesterday evening, this morning helped some friends move, this evening am going to my mum’s concert, and tomorrow I have church. Despite all this, my weekend goals – which I didn’t think were too hefty – were to: finish sewing a top I want to wear at work next week, make the singlet I need to wear underneath it, darn a sock or two, spin and knit to an undefined quantity, make the Sunday breakfast bread, garden, read, write something, and see my sister who arrives back in town tomorrow. Now – all of these are good things, but it’s not really achievable to do them all, nor is it necessarily desirable. I like doing a little here, a little there on lots of projects, but sometimes it would be nice to sit down with something all-consuming and just do that one thing for a while. I don’t really know how to settle this feeling of so many things I could be doing and therefore so many things I’d like to be doing. It’s a thing I’m working on.
  2. I appear to have reached a state of wardrobe satisfaction. In terms of normal clothes (the bits people see…) I can fairly happily reach into my wardrobe every day and pull out something that I’ve made that makes me happy to wear that day. Honestly, this is a fantastic situation to be in, but I’m still exploring what it means in terms of my wardrobe planning and making. I have a bunch of underthings I want to make – singlets and leggings are unexciting but super useful and fast, and bras which are my new exploration area (uh, I’ve made a successful one! Just I’m having photography difficulties – as soon as I resolve them, you can be sure you’ll see it!). Other than that I have one or two work tops that’ll be useful now I’m in a proper office space, and one summer dress, and that’s… it. My hope for my one week true-holiday, before I started working, was to make most of the boring things so I can use my tiny moments of sewing time during work for the more exciting things. Unfortunately that was a case of point 1 – but that’s ok, I can work slowly and patiently. I think, though, that I am hoping to work n a slower and more deliberate fashion over the next while, so that I produce fewer items of clothing (apart from the aforesaid necessary underthings) but everything that I produce is very high quality.
  3. I’d also like to feed that into a feeling that I can afford to spend precious making-time making things for other people.
  4. I can’t believe that I’ve reached the point of making leggings and cardigans! I thought I would be making pretty dresses forever, as recently as two years ago…


(This post is brought to you by my hat because a) today is hat weather and b) the hat feels like the first foretaste of this whole slow, careful making business, early this year before I articulated it at all)

the Rainbow Lady

Good afternoon!

I keep forgetting what I’ve actually written about, but today we can have: the outfit that I am wearing at the moment.


Clearly the star of the outfit is my skirt, but truly I love everything about this. (I also just like this as a photo of me…) We’ll taking things from the bottom up; the skirt.

I inherited this gorgeous rainbow poncho from my step-grandmother earlier this year. I looked at it and knew I would never wear it as a poncho, but thought it had a lot of promise for a skirt. It was a pretty easy conversion, and I cut enough bits off the corners (it was a slightly elongated rectangle at the start) to make the waistband and pockets. I considered making the waistband with vertical stripes, to get all the colours in, but decided this skirt already had enough going on without that and chose the calmer green to centre on the waistband. It’s lined with some black cotton from my scraps bag.


I love stripes and plaids in circle skirts in general, but what I love even more about this is that the stripes make a rainbow. This is a factor I hadn’t thought of before I finished it. On the front, the colours are even oriented the right way up (apparently not on the back, and I hadn’t noticed until I plonked that photo up there). I also think that this fabric has the right amount of weight for a circle skirt – I’ve tried to make them in drapy fabrics in the past, and I just end up looking pregnant (this being a risk for me). In this, though, it has enough body to hold its shape just a little, and fold nicely most of the time.

I fully didn’t think I’d wear this that often. I love it, but I thought I’d be intimidated by its… attention-grabbing nature. In fact, I’m so excited to wear this many colours, and so excited that it coordinates with everything I own (what with me only owning saturated colours, and this have EVERY saturated colour in it), that I wear it rather a lot. On a grey day, I feel like I’m lighting up my world by wearing this.


Ok, now let’s talk about the top. In fact, if I’m honest, I wear this outfit just as much because I love the top as the skirt. It’s merino knit, and through this I have discovered that not all merino fabric is created equal. This is the softest, most squishy/cuddly top I own. I want more just like it.  It’s unbelievable just how great it is.

It’s another Plantain. I’ve made a fair few things based on this pattern now, and it’s working out well for me. Just… useful.



And now the hat!


I actually knitted this back in March, on my way to/from placements half an hour away. It’s a beautiful squishy merino/possum blend that we discovered in my grandmother’s stash (which my family collectively inherited). We’ve gone through much of the pretty-colour yarn, since that was what we were looking for in the past, but I’m now way more interested in fibre and texture of a yarn than I used to be, so discovering this was very exciting. My sister also made a hat out of this, so I based it off her pattern but adjusted the stitch patterns to be not-quite-matching. We’ve never worn ours at the same time though – they’re still pretty similar!

Actually liking my hat makes a huge difference to my hat-wearing habits! I’ve never been much of a hat wearer, but I wore this all the time all winter. It’s so snuggly, and on an extra-cold day I can pull it down tight and increase the foldover slightly to tuck my whole head in, and especially the ears. Just the best.

Of course, now that I’ve actually posted this, it’s winter and I’m not going to wear it for months!


It’s almost the end of the school year now – a week and a half and I’m done! Last week was a pretty tough placement, but I guess I’m lucky in that it’s been the first that’s been a problem. This week I have two days off because there’s a junior doctor strike, and we spend most of our time with junior doctors – it’s a little annoying but also quite nice to have two days to myself (for study, of course, exams next week). And I fully support the strike – they work crazy hours! Be nice to your doctors, friends (and that’s not just because I’m going to be one).

Leaving you with a photo. Goodbye friend!


Sewing for Placements

I’m beginning to forget what’s made it onto the blog and what hasn’t. I went on a photos spree a few weeks ago, but who knows what I’ve written about?

Today we’re going to go for my workhorse outfit. I’ve worn this pretty much once a week since May – when I finished the skirt – I don’t have a huge number of hospital outfits, so this is one of my standards.IMG_2094

In fact, the top was made as far back as January. It was the first Scout tee I made – I’ve made one since and am working on making more so I can branch out a bit in what I wear each day. These two tops really are staples of class clothes, and I feel good enough in them that I wear them outside class sometimes too.


The fabric for the top was a fairly loose weave cotton from The Fabric Warehouse. I bought far too much of it, so am thinking maybe pyjama shorts for summer? It’s almost the season to be thinking about short pyjamas again… I love the textured weave, and at the time every fabric I was drawn to was for interest in the weave. I like that it’s a subtle interest to the top.


I don’t think I’d realised quite how stripey the fabric was when I bought it. I love it now, but I was a bit worried I’d get the pyjama look wearing it out. I think the cut of the top doesn’t particularly help, but the fact that I wear it almost exclusively tucked into a skirt does.

So let’s talk about the skirt! I did a really good job on this skirt. It was a practising invisible zips deal, because they were not one of my skills (but now they are!). It was also a practising gathered skirts, because I was about to make bridesmaids skirts for my flatmate and wanted to test out what ratio to gather to. This is a ratio of 1 1/2: 1 skirt:waistband (more or less), which wound up a little narrower than I’d imagined, but actually turned out to be a very useful width for my hospital stuff. It’s just nice to have a slightly different silhouette to all my half-circle and circle skirts.


I had forgotten how much hand-sewing I did on this, until I started taking photos. Look at this.

Waistband handstitched down. Zipper opening overcast. Hem catch stitched down. Look at that upper right photo – that’s the right side of the hem, to prove that it is completely invisible. I am surprised I had the patience, but you go past me! It’s really satisfying to wear something so nicely made, especially when I’m wearing it so often.

The skirt fabric is a lovely spongy rayon/polyester crepe also from The Fabric Warehouse, by the way, which I bought almost entirely for the colour (and in fact fought my sister over. She got the remnants). I do like that store – they have a lot of variety in their fabrics, mostly cheap, and good sales (but occasional, so you have to get in quick).

And for a bonus, my other workhorse clothing is the cardigan I often wear with it.

I don’t have any great photos of it, but this is a merino knit cardi made from the Plantain pattern. I was intending to use Jenna, as I’ve done before, but realised it would take some significant editing and actually starting with a t-shirt pattern and just slashing the front in half and adjusting the neckline would be closer to what I was thinking. I added a 2″ strip folded in half for the front band, and by some miracle not of my doing it hangs beautifully so you can’t see the attachment of the band on the inside. This is a perfect cardigan for my life, and I wear it all the time. Especially with the above hospital outfit. It’s super satisfying having such a normal, every day outfit that I’m so happy with and feel good every time I put on. Really, I just need two more like it…


Tree and Leaf

While I’ve been on radio silence for a few months, I’ve been knitting like crazy. I love how transportable knitting is, as I’ve had a lot of long commutes lately – I also knit in class, depending on what the class is (this does not work for some things, as I’m sure you can imagine). And what with it being winter and all (second day of spring today!) my penchant has been for big, thick, bulky-weight knitting, as seen here.


This jumper is… loosely related to the famous owls sweater. At least, in my head it’s related, but I looked at the pattern maybe once int he making process, and proceeded to ignore what it said, so maybe that’s stretching things a bit. It’s made with a lovely 12-ply yarn my parents gave me for Christmas (both my birthday and Christmas are completely out of season for this kind of knit – but I selected the yarn, and yarn waits). I already have a sweater with owls on, so while I like the shape of it, I wanted to come up with my own pattern for the yoke, and the colour immediately suggested trees/leaves/botanical ideas. So that is what I have. The leaves come from an old stitch dictionary of my grandmother’s, but I could not find a satisfactory tree pattern anywhere. So I made it up. This was not as easy as that sentence sounds – I went through rather a lot of variations before I came up with something I liked at all, and even at that I think the tree looks best under a little more tension than most of these have (the best one is on the back, because it’s just a little more stretched out than the others). It was quite frustrating, because I was sure my ideal pattern was out there somewhere – I managed to find photos of Aran sweaters with the tree I wanted, but never with a pattern along with it; but I’m happy with this one.

I also put in a lot of effort into the shaping and planning of it. I wasn’t really sure how much yarn I had, and I spent a lot of time agonising over what length to make this, so I cast on the sleeves first – for fewer decisions – and knit them, then did a provisional cast-on at the waist/lower bust and knitted up, did all of the yoke before picking up the waist stitches and knitting down to the button band. I used all of my yarn. I had a 20cm tail left at the end of the cast-off row, and that was it. I am considering ripping back just the bottom band and knitting again on smaller needles, as it’s a little loose at the moment, but otherwise I’m happy.


It goes with a surprisingly large proportion of things that I own, including the things that don’t fit into my usual colour choices. In fact, I’m wearing it at the moment. It also co-ordinates with my stethoscope, just in case I ever feel the need for that. (There are days – my stethoscope is green, my pounamu (greenstone necklace) is green, and if I’m in the hospital and also wearing any green clothing it looks like I only ever wear green.)

I (and also my whole family) am a huge Tolkien fan, and this top reminds me somewhat of the small book “Tree and Leaf” that is one of his non-Middle Earth writings. There is a story in it about a man whose life work is painting a tree with meticulously detailed leaves, and eventually gets taken to live in the area with a real tree that matches his painting exactly, and to look after the real tree. I love the storytelling in this story, the gentleness, and the idea of living with what he has created. So it pleases me that I can think of it every time I wear my knitting. Especially because this is also a creative endeavour.


Immediately after making this one, I moved on to knitting my sister an actually-owls sweater, out of some very similar yarn given to my mum by a work friend. It’s about two shades darker than mine, but more than once I was knitting on it, while wearing my own new sweater, and had someone stare at me strangely and ask if I was knitting what I was wearing…


By the time I’d finished both of these, I was thoroughly sick of stocking stitch. Good for knitting in a movie theatre – say – but really rather tedious for two whole sweaters, even in such bulky yarn. So on it is to more exciting projects! I’m knitting lace now…

And the obligatory garden photos! It’s spring, and it’s exciting.

Seafoam Socks

So this week, I’ve been feeling like a Real Med Student. I’ve been wearing surgical scrubs around, I’ve been into surgery twice (and assisted both times – although the second time I accidentally un-steriled myself towards the end, which is a very easy thing to do. After you’re all gowned up, you’re not allowed to lift your hands above your chest or below your waist, or touch anyone or anything that isn’t as sterile as you. On the other hand, you are allowed to touch the business end of the surgical instruments, and the like, because you are sterile and they are sterile and it’s all fine). I also spent the last two days in ICU, which was – – as much as the rest of the hospital is a strange environment, the ICU is much stranger. I’m definitely still processing it. One of the things I found is that it’s really hard to interact with patients’ families – it’s easy to forget how big a deal being in ICU is when you’re seeing so many patients.

However. We’re here to talk about sewing, and/or knitting (in this particular case). Look at my socks!


I am a convert to hand-knit socks. They take a while, but they are so gorgeous to wear! These ones are one of the two that cycle through everyday wear, as they’re the only ones I have that fit snugly. They’re also one of my Beautiful Socks, with gradual colour changes and a swaying pattern. When I made the socks, I wanted a sea-like pattern to match the yarn colour, but also something basic enough to memorise and multitask, and this was pretty perfect.


I knit these on 2mm needles, only my second pair of socks with that size. Previously I used 2.5s, but I like the denser fabric of this, especially as it theoretically should increase hard-wearing-ness (durability?).

I used this pattern, but apart from the stitch pattern – which I altered – I actually never looked at the pattern again. I decided prior to starting that I wanted to knit these toe-up, and do a French heel – I haven’t found a good pattern for toe-up French heels, so the pair of socks knitted before these were top-down with this heel, and I wrote down exactly what I did so that I could replicate it in reverse. I now have this heel type stored in my brain (I hope – at least, I can work it out again, I have the necessary information for that) and am considering writing it up so other people don’t have to also do it from scratch. I’m very glad that I did it toe-up, in the end – I came very close to using all the yarn (less than 1m left at the end of it all!) and had shorter socks than I expected. So if it had been top-down, I would have run out of yarn and had to start again. Not fun.


(a good look at that nice heel)


I almost never knit anything following the pattern properly these days, and it’s become pretty normal to try something and rip it out if it doesn’t work properly; these are no exception. My first iteration of the heel had a too short heel flap, so these are try two. I think I must have a higher-than-normal instep, because this kind of problem always happens to me. They’re also just a smidge too long in the foot, but that is just a thing that happens, better than being too tight.

That’s all about my socks now. Fare well!

Well, I’m back

It’s been a while here. I’ve been sewing a bunch (but nothing with zips or darts – my last dart was in January, until this weekend) but my camera has been out of action (every photo shows up as a big question mark, for no apparent reason). This week I borrowed one from a friend, and took photos of my gorgeous new dress that I am in love with, so here I am back!

(I also took photos of my socks, and the goal is to get a few others this week, so I can catch up with the made things. I can’t even remember half the things I need to photograph now)


The story of this dress starts with, actually, this one. When I was working in my semester break in June, I was wearing a uniform in the morning, and coming home and realising what I wanted to wear every day was this warm, fluffy merino dress. Which prompted me to start thinking about sewing another comfy wool dress to wear in the winter and feel both warm and fabulous in.

(I’ve succeeded).

Then a few weeks ago I went to a craft market in town with a couple of friends, and did the usual thing of prodding at all the clothes stalls to see if there was anything I wanted to copy, and I came across a shift dress in a beautiful lightweight plaid wool. Chatting to the store owner, she told me where she bought it from, and then said “I think they might still have some, actually.” Which sent me there as soon as I could make it out there. And lo and behold, they had the exact beautiful fabric I was looking for. Isn’t it gorgeous?


It’s pretty soft, it’s squishy, it’s plaid, it’s some of my favourite colours. Love it.

I did not buy enough for a circle skirt. I bought what I thought was a relatively low amount, because I was being thrifty, thinking I might make the skirt pleated. However, my sister rightly warned me of the dangers of a pleated skirt looking like a school uniform, and through serendipitous factors beyond my control I just (just) had enough to make a full circle out of that lovely lovely wool (I gave up my dreams of full length sleeves for the circle – but who knew that you can cut more out of 60″ wide fabric than 45″? It’s one of those things I never remember to take into account when I’m deciding how much to buy, and luckily that worked in my favour this time).

I am very very fond of this dress. I put it on as soon as I finished it yesterday, and then wore it again today, because it is beautiful.


By way of lining, we have three different strategies employed (four, if you count just not lining the sleeves). I didn’t think the (loose/soft weave) fabric would hold the fitted shape particularly well, so I underlined the bodice with cotton lawn for stability, then lined the waistband in the normal fashion to enclose the seams, and lined the skirt with a flannelette sheet to add some body and warmth. I know that I don’t like circle skirts when they’re too drapy, because I have something of a tendency to look pregnant in normal life and they exacerbate it (I had two people in one week ask me when my baby was due recently…), but I was super sold on the circle skirt in the plaid, so I really wanted a lining that would make it hold its shape a bit better.


In terms of pattern, the bodice was from NL 6143 (like this, this, and this – it’s my go to fitted bodice), but I shortened it slightly to add the waistband, which was just a straight rectangle, and adjusted the neck somewhat. There’s clearly something going on in the back bodice, but I don’t see it so I don’t mind about it.


I had some fun finishing everything fancily, and used rather a lot of seam binding tape on this, which has resulted in rather beautiful insides. The wool was pretty keen on fraying, so this should keep it under control. I also used the seam tape to pipe the edges of the waistband, and my only regret is that I dind’t do this on the pockets as well. And in one of my favourite touches, the zip is matching-but-contrasting. I love it.

In terms of life stuff, next week is my first week going into surgery! This is pretty exciting. I expect to be pretty well busy for the whole next three months, varying slightly on my placement, as we do something different each week. Next week is two days of acute admissions – people who turn up to ED with appendicitis and the like – followed by two days in ICU (which apparently alternates between nothing happening and far too busy for students to do anything, so it’s not a super useful learning attachment, but it still sounds cool). And then I’ll be spending a week with the cardiothoracic surgeons, which is heart and chest surgery – another interesting/exciting place to be for a bit.

And of course, I have plant babies growing. As always. I have one set of succulents who live on my desk, and it’s great to be able to see them so much of the time. I’m very excited for the start of the spring growing season – I got some new seeds to plant today! Tomatoes and chillies and squash and gooseberries!

And one more of my dress.


Me-Made-May 2016

My goal for this May was to wear two me-made items every day. Last year I got quite frustrated by Me-Made-May, finding it a limitation rather than a good challenge. This year it was much better – wearing two me-mades every day wasn’t hard (especially after I made three pairs of underwear in the second week), and aiming for as many me-mades as possible really helped me to think about what I don’t have in my wardrobe.

(I took no photos, because my camera is having a hissy fit. This also accounts for the lack of recent projects posted, or at least is a handy excuse)


I saw recently that Handmade by Carolyn is doing a year of handmade project – only wearing handmade items, including shoes and jewellery (look at her latest shoes! They’re amazing). I’m considering taking this on as a challenge for 2017 – I doubt that I’d go as far as shoes, but aiming for 100% handmade in my clothing (probably with the exception of particularly special items handmade by someone else or inherited). I have quite a long list of things I’d need to make to achieve this, but May helped me to clarify and form the list.

The new types of garments I’d need are: Leggings, coats (wool coat and rain coat), bras, and pyjamas.

Things I’ve made before but need more of: Warm undergarments, socks, underwear, cardigans.

Actually, that doesn’t look that bad! Coats and bras are clearly the most difficult, but I think most of the other projects there are pretty manageable. It will certainly be a challenge, but perhaps a doable one.


I remember two years ago reading sewing bloggers talking about their move from sewing pretty, frivolous dresses (when they were new to sewing) to making things they actually wear, and thinking “well I’m making pretty dresses AND wearing them”. I still do wear those pretty dresses from two years ago – most of them, anyway – but I am finding myself trying to fill in the gaps around them, making my cardigans, socks, and whatever else I find to be necessary. It’s amusing to notice myself following the same or similar pattern to what I was reading about when I was a new dressmaker.


Birds and Butterflies, B B B

Kia ora folks.

I’m not really wanting to write a post today – I’ve had a busy month, full of class and trips out of town and making four bridesmaid skirts for my flatmate’s wedding – but May starts tomorrow, and I’m doing Me-Made-May, and I want to get my pledge out in the world before the month kicks in.

So here it is: In May, I will wear at least two things I have made every day. I will not photograph them unless it seems like a good idea at the time. I will also keep a record of the largest number of me-made items I manage to wear in one day through the mont.

I wear one thing almost every day anyway, and often on class days it’ll be a top and skirt, because my hospital wardrobe is entirely hand-sewn (I didn’t expect it to be, but found it significantly less stressful to just make my own than to have to actually go clothes shopping. That is not a thing I enjoy). So it’s really only a challenge to wear either hand-made cardigans or underwear on dress days. My long-term goal is to be able to wear entire outfits of me-made things on a regular basis, but I’m still working up to that.

While I’m posting, I’ll show a few photos of what I’ve been wearing lately.


The top is the Scout Tee from Grainline Patterns. It’s turned out to be a super great top for me. I love the fabric a lot, and although I was a little dubious about the shape of the top, when it’s tucked into a skirt it sits reasonably nicely and makes me feel professional. I feel very comfortable in this top. I also made it really well, apart from an incident with a too hot iron (turns out this scorches – there’s a brown-tinted spot near one seam now), so every time I put it on I admire the french seams everywhere.

I’m wearing one other Scout at the moment (which was actually made first, but is slightly less well loved, due to the sheer amazingness of this rayon fabric, I almost went back to the store and bought more the day after I finished this dress), and have fabric for the next – as soon as I’ve finished these bridesmaid’s skirts!



it clearly fits wrong untucked, but I never want to wear it this way anyway


after cutting and sewing, with no remnant fabric – I only bought 1m – I spotted this hole on the back shoulder. Which may or may not have been my fault. It’s fixed now, but only with a black zigzag, not anything beautiful

I’m going to leave it at that, and go to bed, but happy Me-Made-May all those who are participating!

It’s In Our Genes

Hello friends! It’s been a while. I’ve had a super busy but also really awesome month, and sewing has definitely fallen by the wayside (knitting not so much, which is awesome! At least if I have no time to sew, I can still feel like I’m making progress somewhere). Last time I posted it was my first day of my first hospital placement, which is all wrapped up now. I can say unequivocally that it was a fantastic five weeks. I’m stoked with the placement and much more interested in geriatrics than I was a month ago! In terms of learning-exciting-things, I am now mildly proficient at taking blood for blood tests, I can put in an IV line if I have to (although probably successful and unsuccessful are tied at the moment – it’s not my top skill), and I can have a conversation with a patient without stuttering too much (that’s an achievement, I promise). I’m also really enjoying the learning style – there’s an expectation that we go research things that we see ourselves, which means essentially we have free rein over what we’re studying on any particular day (there is some formal class stuff, but it’s the minority) and that is exactly how I learn best. I found the last two years of medical school a bit of a drag at times, so it’s something of a relief to get into the hospital and realise that this is still interesting to me. Plus, the team of doctors I was placed with were all very friendly, welcoming, and good at teaching, which helped a lot when I was lost and didn’t know what was happening.

So, back to the making of things! Like I said, I’ve had very little to sew (although I have some January makes waiting for photos – but in the little free time I’ve had, sewing has been prioritised) but I have had an hour in the car every day to and from placement. Which means: Hoorah for the knitting.


These socks started out with the yarn – a merino/possum blend, with nylon for strength, which claims to be recycled yarn. Now on the one hand, I am fully in support of new possum-fur yarns – possums are a serious pest in NZ, so having a possum fur trade is ecologically pretty great – but on the other, recycled yarn is also a good idea, and also it was $10/ball at the yarn store sale. My sister and mother also picked up some of this and started their socks before me, and on looking at the beautiful bloom of the possum I decided it would look really nice with some cabling up the side of the foot. Failing to find a pattern I liked (apart from one in German), I tried to work out if I could design one, and remembered seeing a cabled DNA pattern somewhere. Perfect! I thought. What more could a medical student want?

As it turned out, the DNA pattern was too wide for my tastes. After a lot of playing around trying to modify the pattern (these socks took me 6 weeks to make, but 2 1/2 weeks was just swatching and trying things several ways), I settled on a pattern only 2 stitches narrower – still too wide for what I’d imagined, but the best I could do and have it actually look like DNA. I’m fairly happy with the result, and it’s the most complicated pattern I’ve ever made myself, so I’m very stoked with that.


I started these toe-up, because I’m enjoying the control over leg length I have that way, but got to the heel and realised I know no toe-up heels that I actually like. After much research I used this one from Knit Better Socks (which is a pretty useful resource, by the way), but ripped it back and altered it because I didn’t like it, and ended up with a slightly-better-but-still-not-great heel. As seen here.


Can you see the bulbousness around the corner? I can, and it bugs me often. Next time I make socks, I’m planning to do a top-down French heel and write down exactly what I do so I can replicate it backwards – I’m not over toe-up socks, but I am firmly in favour of French heels (here’s a picture of one, if you’re interested). They’re by far the best fit of what I’ve tried.

On the other hand, this is an overall satisfying sock. I made up the pattern, following what the yarn wanted to do, and I ended up with something warm and attractive and wearable. I am feeling accomplished as a knitter right now.SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

And, since I have a new house which is also beautiful, here are just a couple of photos for a taste of it.

That’s all, see you next time!