Wardrobe inventory

I just found this unpublished post – who knew it was here. It’s a bit of a relic, given that it was written in May; I’ve given away a few of the items tracked in here since then (I’m doing much better at giving away things I don’t use/wear recently. Better to be loved by someone else).


My goal for Me-Made-May was to wear every me-made thing that I own, that’s at least vaguely seasonally appropriate. In order to facilitate that, I spent some time yesterday sorting through things that I own, photographing everything I could find (note: I’ve found at least two more things that I had forgotten about already), and categorising. Otherwise, how will I know? This was enough fun that I thought I’d share – only 3 of the 70(!) items I tracked down are pre-blog, although not all have had proper photos, so it’s a track of the fiveish years I’ve been making clothes. I have given away a number of things over the years, although it’s always a wrench – hopefully seeing everything I have will help me to hold lightly to things I don’t wear!

(This is just as much for me as anyone else – I find it interesting to see what has survived.)

Starting with the things that get a free pass through this month for various reasons:

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Four very summery dresses: the far right is the first garment I made, 6 years ago. The second from left does get a pass due to the weather – but probably should go in the donation pile at all. I’ve tried fixing it a few times, but it just doesn’t fit (I finally made my peace with giving it away last week).

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Four dresses in the repair pile: the right two are worn frequently enough when whole that I don’t worry about whether they ought to stay in the wardrobe or not. The left two need some hem attention.

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Seven weather-appropriate dresses: four of which get worn relatively regularly; the cream one in the centre just feels a little saccharine to me, although I wore it the other day and got a compliment before I even made it to morning handover, so that’s a good sign I guess. The black/gold and purple also need more love.

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Seven woven tops: I wear three of the four Scout tees every week, being my staple work wardrobe, and the camisole at the front is a new addition in the last few months that’s getting a lot of love. The green silk top just doesn’t fit that well, and the long-sleeved Granville shirt got a dye stain fairly early in its life in the wash (which now has been bleached out, and it’s awaiting re-dying in the near future). Also it needs ironing every time I wear it which makes me less enthusiastic.

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Six knit tops: Yes, this photo is only five – there’s another merino Plantain that I can’t find at the moment, but it’s pyjamas when it’s around, so lots of wear. The stripe tee is mostly for gardening, and the purple one is slowly dying with holes.

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Seven skirts: also known as: far too many skirts for my number of skirt hangers. Only two of these get regular wear, and one has been worn once and passed on into the donations box already this month. I think I can work the red linen skirt into my wardrobe, if I lengthen the back vent a little – it tends to ride up, and I’m hoping that’ll fix the problem. The others are all in the questionable basket.

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Seven cardigans and sweaters: I am attached to any sweater I’ve knitted myself, so although I don’t really wear either of the green ones, I don’t know what to do about that! I really ought to re-knit the waist of the centre back sweater, and then I might wear it more, but have never quite brought myself to do that – and I’m worried it may have felted enough to make that not really an option. The bottom right is my first ever handknit sweater and as such has even more sentimentality (but I managed to get rid of it. Finding that it had moth holes sped up the process – it’s definitely not worth mending to me).

11 pairs underwear and 4 bras: underwear actually get a pass on the must-wear-in-May, because there are three pairs there that are less comfortable but invaluable on weeks when my washing is delayed.

One pair leggings and one bikini: the leggings probably ought to be first on the give away list, not at all comfortable unfortunately. The bikini is clearly unseasonable, but beautiful (and worn in May! Moving to Gisborne for a few weeks did that).

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Seven handknit accessories: ok, some of these are in the mend basket – and there’s one more pair of socks in the mend pile that I couldn’t just put my hands on – but we’ll see how the weather goes with regards to the full-on mittens, anyway.

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And finally, two very old handknit scarves. One of which, as you see, never got the ends sewn in. I’ve never really worn either of these – they’re both pretty scratchy tbh – and am thinking these are going into the give away pile – I’ve been hanging onto them for reasons of sentimentality, because they were knitted pretty early in me getting into knitting (in high school I think?), but I don’t really think I need to own them any more (gone!).

After photographing everything I realised I forgot my pyjamas! However, they are getting plenty of wear anyway. Pyjamas are a great project if you’re after value per wear!

 

I hadn’t realised quite how much I own that I’ve made. It might not be my whole wardrobe – and I’ve made my peace with possibly never getting to 100% handmade – but it’s still a pretty substantial chunk there. It’s really just tights that I have 100% shop bought, and then a few tops/cardigans and one or two dresses. And that’s it!


As it happened, I didn’t quite manage to wear or get rid of everything in May, but I made a pretty good shot at it. My wardrobe is looking rather a lot better now, more full of things I enjoy actually wearing. So that was overall a success!

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the power of making

Hey friends!

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unfinished socks – though there’s a lot more to it now!

I have been thinking a bit lately about the power of making. I do make things because I want to own the product – the pair of pants on my lap at the moment are a case in point (although unfortunately I think this one may be a fail – I’m working on making it at least vaguely wearable, if not anything more than that). But more than that, I make beause of the sheer joy it brings, and I make because I need to see something real that my hands have done, and I make because I love giving other people something that comes from these hands and this heart.

I am (almost) a doctor, I am in the actual stereotypical Meaningful Profession, and even I come home some days and find that I need to Make Something Real. Mostly that’s on days when something’s gone wrong – the days where I’ve struggled to engage with patients, or where I’ve been caught up in an emergency, or where I’ve simply had difficulty with relationships within the team. That kind of day happens to everyone. But somehow, putting my hands together and bringing out something new, concrete, makes the day seem more worthwhile and makes everything feel a little more under control.

I have been choosing to set aside being fast, set aside the desire for new things, and focus on finishing and mending. Mending is how I want to live – as a person who uses less stuff and looks after it longer.

I’m not sure that I’m writing this for any real reason, and I’m sure that everyone who reads this has felt in themselves the importance of making. But I guess, before I step into my first real job – and more to the point, a 55-hour-a-week job – I want to remind myself that I make for reasons beyond what I want to own or have. Sometimes I don’t buy things because I think “oh I could make this”, and sometimes I do make it, but it’s ok to sometimes say no, I don’t need to make my t-shirts or singlets or skirts, but I do need to make the things that bring me joy, whatever those are. Because at the heart of it, that’s why I make.

(I’ve set down my goal of making everything I wear for a year. I don’t need to get to 100% handmade, it’s ok. I don’t really have the kind of job allowing the kind of time needed for that much sewing.)

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this is for a friend’s newborn – 8 days old today! Unfortunately I forgot how tiny newborn babies are, it won’t fit for a while

I’ve also been making a lot more headway on my mending pile lately. I’m not entirely sure what prompted that – and I’m worried that whatever juice it was that I was running on, it may have run out – but it’s another thing to celebrate: joy in bringing things back to life, not merely in new things. I’ve decided to put down my goal of making a coat and instead work on repairing my old coat: it’s a little short on buttons, but the fabric is sound and warm, and with a little embroidery and a few more buttons could be back to a favourite again. Especially since I’m moving up north in a few months: my need for a coat is going to diminish I suspect.

 

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on making. I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels this way – do you have the same need to make something real?

(The photos throughout are a few of the smaller things that have brought me joy recently – there are also a couple of bigger items, but those warrant their own blog posts I think. Coming… someday?)

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jellyfish on my bra

So… April kinda snuck up on me, and today it’s the 30th. This is slightly nice, as I had a goal to not eat refined sugar in April, and I’m looking forward to some cookies (remembering that this is about Not eating all the sugar, it’s not a free license to eat everything I want tomorrow). On the other hand, it’s Me Made May tomorrow, and I haven’t exactly decided what I want to do for that.

I am therefore going to distract you by talking about my bra.

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(I’m still working on how to photograph bras, but I think this music stand + socks idea is the best so far! This is not, in fact, a piece of music I’m learning, and I have no idea why it’s open to this page.)

This is the thing I dreamed about when I was overseas and not able to sew. It ended up being only the third thing I made when I got back – I kept thinking I had everything and then discovering more bits and pieces that I needed – but it is everything I hoped for. I used the Harriet pattern again, and modified it by adding 1″ on each side of the back – which is, I hope you’ll notice, quite a lot. I am not particularly impressed by the fact that I needed that much extra to make a fitting bra when I measured according to their recommendations.

These close-ups are designed to give you a view of the fabric: it’s technically birds and flowers and the like, but to be honest I just think of jellyfish every time I look at it (especially the photo on the left). Which I am entirely ok with. The fabric is leftover rayon scraps from a top my sister made; I only just fit the pattern pieces on, with very little left over, so that’s an effective use of scraps. It’s lined with a fairly sturdy cotton, chosen mainly for being the only plain navy fabric I could find. I didn’t line the lace with anything, which may have been a mistake from the support perspective, although I love the appearance. I did stabilise it with a line of transparent elastic sewn along the top (this was done after the cups were inserted, because I forgot, and was insanely tricksy to sew. Have to work out a better way of managing that next time).

The lace, underwire casing, most elastics (other than straps) and duoplex (for the back) started out white. I dyed them using the darkest blue iDye poly my store had, which turned out to be a mid-blue rather than the navy I hoped for; I was initially dubious but actually I love it, now that I’ve finished the bra; I love the effect of the two different solids with the print of the fabric.

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Now that I’ve told you about the bra, and had some time to think about Me Made May…

I think my goal is to wear everything handmade I own, that is seasonally appropriate (giving myself a pass on the three or four super summery dresses here). I don’t particularly want to be holding onto things for sentimentality, apart from possibly the first item that I ever made – so I’m going to try them out. Actually, I’ll modify that: I have the option of wearing a thing or giving it away (to a friend, or an op shop) if I try it on and am not willing to wear it for the day.

Now to catalogue all the things I have to wear…

(I said at the beginning of the year that I wanted to do May completely me-made. Well, I actually have a lower proportion me-made than at the start of the year, because I’ve changed my mind a bit and am ok with the fact that my wardrobe isn’t completely me-made. Most pertinently, I have no tights. I haven’t had a lot of sewing time this month, so I’m prioritising things more heavily.)

Have a good week friends!

home from holidays dress

This dress has the single best pockets I have ever made.

Important details folk. I could not care about anything else about this dress, and still wear it for the pockets. Fortunately, I like the rest of it too; but the pockets I am storing up for future reference. (It’s because I’m back in the NZ hospital, and a few of my normal hospital outfits don’t have good pockets – so I’m really noticing the difference it makes.)

However, let’s take this story back to the start.

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Picture yourself, if you will, in Uganda. It’s a sunny day, it’s humid (it’s always humid – ok, I was only there for six weeks!), there’s no wind. I’ve been there two days. On the Tuesday, I arrived into the city around 4.30pm, and went out for a walk; did some exploring, but didn’t manage to find anything much. On the Wednesday, I had been to the international hub of Kampala twice, first with someone from the hospital and second with another doctor living in my lodgings. I’d even caught one of the ubiquitous minivan “taxis” – kinda like an informal bus service. Now it was Thursday, I didn’t start placement till Monday, and it was time for my first foray alone into the centre of town.

Armed with a water bottle, a phone with internet access and a map, and the name of a street of fabric stores, I decided I was catching one of the “taxis”, as it was a 50-minute walk to the city centre (later in my stay I actually more often walked it – although for the most part I avoided the central city where I could). The problem with the informality, though, is that I had no idea what the route was, and also am still not sure how fixed the routes were. This makes a problem when you’re tryng to go somewhere you don’t know well, although it’s fine on the way home. In the end I took the taxi for probably half the distance to my destination. I followed with my map, and got out when it deviated from my straight-lines path to my destination, to walk the rest of the way. (Again, later in the stay I would have caught it further – but then I would have had a better chance at identifying the street I ended up on. I went for the safe way for the first time.) I had already discovered that when it rains in Uganda, it really rains. Halfway down the street the skies opened up, but I ducked into a smallish shopping mall, and continued on my way when things lightened up.

Finding the street I was after was not so difficult, despite it not having a street sign, with the aid of my trusty maps. Finding the fabric stores proved much more difficult, despite the fact that I was assured there woudl be plenty! At first I found only a few selling shiny polyesters – the fabric that’s used for the most common traditional gown, though I am not sure how anyone can stand to wear it in the heat! Then I found one selling suiting fabric at normal Western prices – much better quality, to me, but not what I was after! Eventually, I was looking in another small shop selling poly, and clearly not finding what I was after, when a man broke off from talking to the shopkeeper and offered to take me to his own shop, which had the wax prints I was looking for. He took me through a shopping mall, and out to the alleyway at the back of it, which was lined with stalls of what I was actually after. His offer worked out well for him, as I bought two lengths of fabric from him; and also for his neighbour, who sold me the fabric you see today. (The other lengths were for my sisters.) (It’s interesting to note that most of these shops seemed to be as much tailors as fabric stalls; old Singer sewing machines were evident everywhere.)

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This fabric languished in my suitcase for over three months, but when I reached New Zealand I threw my small stash of fabric straight into the washing machine so I could get started on sewing sooner rather than later. I actually wanted to sew a bra before I started this, but kept running into problems with not having what I needed, so this was a good simple project, requiring minimal thought.

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The pattern is my trusty NL6143 (I don’t even have to look that number up!), modified this time to lower the armholes since a) it has no sleeves and b) this fabric is stiff. I also sewed it with a 3/8″ seam at the shoulders, instead of 5/8″, because it seemed to be too short for my waist, but that seems to just have lifted the shoulders off mine – it’s hovering off the waist. I’m hoping that becomes less obvious as the fabric softens with washing. I also lowered the waist dart slightly, but not enough, and shortened the bust dart, a bit too much. I could do with taking out even a little more width at the front to decrease gaping. And I really need a sway back adjustment! I’ve known I need one for years, but never quite got around to doing it. Otherwise, it’s actually relatively close to pattern (compared to some things I’ve based on it!). I’ve given it a semicircle skirt, because that seemed like the best option with the stiffness of the fabric, and I have to say I love how it stands out around me. A well-suited fabric/pattern combination.

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Let’s talk pockets! These things are incredible. In my last dress before leaving NZ, I wanted in-seam pockets but also was wary about them flopping around everywhere, because wrap dress + flimsy fabric = zero structure. So I attached them straight into the waistband – still in-seam pockets, and more or less invisible, but with a more similar shape to a yoke pocket. (This was something I made up myself – I don’t know that I’ve personally seen pockets like this, though I imagine someone else has thought of it.) It worked fantastically. They have a nice flat profile, hold the things I want them to, and sit exactly where I put them. So for this dress I did exactly the same thing. I’ve used the main fabric for the back of the pocket, and a cotton lawn for the front to decrease bulk (and also look smart). 100% would do again. I love this. I think it works especially well for flimsy fabrics, as pockets are often a difficult proposition in those,  but having said that, this dress is not in the slightest bit flimsy and it’s great here.

I finished my pocket edges and necklines with bias binding of the same cotton lawn, the waist seam with rayon seam tape, and all other seams by turning and stitching the seam allowance (full disclosure: this is because it was the fastest option I could think of). The hem is also rayon seam tape. This time I pulled it out more taut than I have in the past, and ended up with a beautiful smooth hem after pressing – in the past, I’ve had troubles with it on curved hems, but not today.

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(This photo is mostly to prove the front waist wrinkles are about my posture, not about the dress.)

It’s been good to be back with my sewing machine. So far I’ve made three things in the five weeks I’ve been back – a pretty high rate for me – and it’s really nice to be creating things out of my hands. I missed that. It’s also been good to be home with my flat and my family. I belong here. I’m loving my placement – the final year of medical school is totally different to the first five, it’s much more an apprenticeship type thing, and you’re expected to be a helpful person and have the skills to do so. It’s a really nice change. I’m looking forward to all of my placements for the next 6 months, at least – and in 8 months (and I am totally counting down) I’ll be graduating! Crazy times.

Have a great Easter friends!

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winter mittens

I’ve knitted myself a couple of pairs of gloves over the years, but they’ve quietly disappeared on me. I lost one whole pair moving house, and one individual glove at some point unknown. So when I realised I was going to be in Europe for the centre of the winter, I decided to make myself a new pair – I spent a while debating whether to go for mittens or gloves, but in the end chose mittens as I hoped they might be warmer for my fingers. As it happened, it’s been a pretty mild winter in Europe, but I was expecting something rather colder than I’m used to in NZ.

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The yarn I used was a present to myself the day after I finished exams last year. Fifth year exams are a big deal, and the last exams of my degree, so I felt in need of some kind of treat after all that study and stress. It’s Malabrigo Rios, which is a lovely soft and squishy merino worsted-weight yarn. I didn’t get around to casting on the mittens until Christmas – I think I started the swatch on Christmas Day, because I’d been knitting my Christmas gifts until then. It took me about three weeks to knit them, and I had wearable mittens for my birthday on the 13th January, but I decided to rip out the whole first mitten and reknit it with better tension, so I think they were fully finished a week or so after that.

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This was my first experiment with brioche stitch. Because I am not able to leave well alone, after swatching plain brioche to figure out how it worked, I then decided to knit a pattern with brioche cables. Aside from some tension issues – which are probably a given when trying something new – this worked fine, until the point where I realised I’d made a mistake. (Also the point where my needles fell out.) Tinking this back is a mission, and so is trying to pick it up. Not the most fun job, especially when I was doing most of my knitting on the train. I do like the brioche though – it’s marvelously squashy.

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The pattern for this is Kastanienfeuer, which is actually designed for fingering-weight not worsted-weight wool; I made a swatch and then did some maths with my gauge and the pattern gauge to figure out how much I needed to decrease the number of stitches. (I can’t remember the exact numbers now, but can demonstrate how to do the maths! I’ve done this a few times for different garments.) There’s some more notes on my ravelry here.

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I’m almost finished my long trip away from home now; this is likely to be my last post from afar. I’ve had a couple of fabric- and yarn-y adventures while visiting London, briefly, and I’ll certainly write about them later, but that’s it for now!

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(It was fun being able to take photos in the snow. One of those things no knitter can resist. This tree was my favourite.)

christmas hats

I’m not sure if you noticed, but the Northern Hemisphere is having some winter right now. I’m in Europe, so it’s no, like, a huge amount of winter – we haven’t had any snow at all where I am. But still definitely colder and darker than my family are enjoying in NZ (jealous) and that means hat weather.

(I am constantly astounded by the number of people wandering around sans hats in this weather. I used to be one of them, when I lived in Dunedin, but then I knitted myself this one great hat, and I have not looked back.)

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I arrived in Germany on Christmas Eve, and celebrated Christmas with my friend’s family that very evening. I didn’t really know in advance how many people were going to be there, and I had only met any members of her family very briefly seven years ago, so I was a little at a loss for what to give as gifts; until I realised that it is winter, and I am a knitter, and hats are easy and friendly and everyone needs one. So when I left on my trip, I packed five balls of yarn (I lost one in the airport, but still had plenty), and a set of needles to match, and aimed for a hat a week while I was in Uganda. I didn’t quite make it – it wasn’t especially knitting weather, though hats are small and the evenings were cool enough – but I got four hats in 5 1/2 weeks, which was enough for one each for Hanna’s parents, sister, and boyfriend. So it was plenty.

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The hats are four different patterns; the two single-colour ones are entirely invented patterns, and the two colourwork hats use patterns from Ravelry, but my own standard brim and shaping techniques (mainly because I knit while I’m doing other things, so I can’t be bothered looking up patterns if I don’t have to. I know what I’m doing, when it comes to a hat. (To me they’re the easiest kind of thing to knit – lots of circles, and then just a tiny bit of shaping at the end. I recommend hats to beginners. You also get to finish them, unlike a scarf!)

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The two most gratifying moments were one: going out for a walk on Christmas Day and three out of four people were wearing a hat I had made, and two: realising a week on that Hanna’s boyfriend had literally worn the hat I made every day since then. (A month on, he also walked out of the house wearing it this morning, which prompted me to start writing about them. As well as provoking a moment of pride – I did good with that one.)

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The cabled one took the most thought. I started it on the aeroplane on the way to Uganda, and fully intended it to be a colourwork hat with a pattern I had downloaded on my phone. However, I got onto the plane from Auckland to Dubai, got out my knitting, and… realised I’d lost a ball of yarn in Auckland Airport. Of all the things to leave behind in the airport before I even left NZ, it’s definitely not the biggest problem, but also not an ideal situation. (I’m pretty sure it’s the only thing I lost – I thought I’d lost my soap, as well, but I eventually found it more than three weeks into my time in Uganda, feeling fairly silly.)

I just did the number of cables that would fit around the number of stitches I had, and stuck in the narrow cables between heavy ones to make it add up right. When I came to the top of the hat, I considered carefully concealing my decreases between/within the cable lines, but I’ve done that before on another hat and it takes a lot of thought, so I decided to just keep the ribbing going and decrease with that pattern. I was actually away on a safari trip when I was planning that, knitting in the car, so keeping things simple was a priority.

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Knitting plus grasslands – no animals in this one.

The yarn was Ashford double knitting, and it made lovely crisp cables. I really like white cabled things – I started a giant white cabled thing yesterday – so this hat was a good, satisfying thing. (I don’t particularly like knitting cables – but I love how they look enough that I do it now and then anyway. By inclination I’m more of a lace knitter.)

 

This was also one of the first times I’ve done stranded colourwork – I’m very happy with how both colourwork hats turned out, not too complicated once I got going! So, I also learnt a technique while doing this. I like learning new things. There are a whole lot of colourwork sweater patterns out there that I absolutely love, and now I’m a step closer to making one! (The other step? Start wearing pants – most of them don’t suit my normal fit-and-flare dresses.)

I’m now four weeks into my placement in Germany, and in four weeks time I’ll be back home in NZ. (Asleep, about to begin my next placement in Wellington in the morning…) I’m only counting down a little bit. I’m really enjoying my placement here – I’ll be sad to leave it – but I miss my family, and my home. I do get to see my little sister in London and Bath for a few days before I get home – and my sisters are the people in all the world I’d most like to travel with, so that’ll be fun. But really, I can’t wait to be back home. I’ll also be reunited with my sewing machine! I have some fabric from Uganda that I can’t wait to sew into a dress, and a million other plans. Plus I’m going fabric shopping with my sister in London…

(space/weight in my suitcase is severely limited, so I can’t get too overenthusiastic about that one! Trying to work out if I can pack more of the heavy things into my carry-on this time)

I’ve been having adventures, so here’s a few photos!

(here we have my birthday, with multiple cakes; a castle I visited in the Black Forest; and a trip to France, because this is a continent and you can do that)

Happy knitting and/or sewing!

Farewell to 2017!

I’m often late about it, but I do like to wrap up the end of the year – both personally and in terms of my sewing and knitting and all that.

Top 5 makes

These are mostly things that make me feel wonderful – the burgundy dress is super flattering, the wrap pants make me feel dramatic and Fashionable, while also being a fail because of not actually having enough wrap for me (I passed them to my sister, who I hope is wearing them as much as they deserve! Next summer another pair…), the merino dress is a wonderful mix of stylish and comfortable (I’ve worn it across the world, as it makes a fantastic aeroplane/train dress), and the summer dress makes me feel curvy in the best way. As well as being light and lovely. The bra is less about how it makes me feel, and more about how awestruck I am at how well the construction turned out, and how clean everything looks. But generally, all of them are things that I put on, and directly I feel fantastic, and that’s what I’m after in a made thing.

3 flops

I only found three; I choose to believe this is because I had a good year, rather than because I made things that I didn’t photograph and proceeded to forget about. All of these I wear or might wear, but have fit issues. (As mentioned above, the pants have gone to my sister). The floral dress is too heavy and therefore long and wide in every direction; that’s a lesson about fabric selection. The top is weirdly fitting and the shoulders are oddly sitting.

(There are also a couple of knits that aren’t exactly flops, but also aren’t quite what I hoped for – but I loved the process of knitting them, and I’m ok with the result, so I don’t exactly want to put them here.)

4 Reflections

  1. I did not make a coat. I did not make a One Year One Outfit project, though I started – and did the research. I did spin enough yarn for a garment, but have yet to knit said garment. On the other hand, I have darned and mended far more than ever before! So at least I did hold to one of my 2017 goals. And I love having hand-mended clothing, although I do tend to put off doing it – one thing that worked was inviting some friends to a mending afternoon in the middle of the year, might do that again some time.
  2. I love making things for other people. I had Christmas with a fair few people I didn’t know this year – I stayed with a friend’s family, because of being on the opposite side of the world – so I decided I had time to knit them a hat each, on the principle that a) it’s winter and b) everyone likes knit hats. This was a wild success; it has been crazy satisfying seeing my friend’s boyfriend wearing his hat literally every day since I gave it to him (it somehow magically suits him really well as well, even though I’d never seen him in my life when I was knitting it). And there were four babies I made things for this year. Actually, gifts took up a surprising proportion of my knitting time – maybe 3/4, now I think about it – I knitted one pair of socks, one pair mitts, and one cardigan for myself; and four hats, four baby cardigans (of varying levels of complicatedness) and one and a half pair of mitts (very complicated, and I lost one mitt before making the other!) for other people.
  3. Bras! I now feel vaguely competent at bramaking! All three from this year are in my suitcase overseas, which says something. I am keen to keep working on making more though!
  4. I’ve realised it’s really important for my mental space to have times when I’m only doing one thing – when I’m totally focussed on whatever it is that’s in front of me. I think some people call this flow, but I came up with this early in the year when I had not done any sewing for a long time. I sat down for a whole day when I had a day off class, and sewed quilt blocks without much purpose or aim, and it was such a healing thing. I mostly get that time from spending solid times crafting – and particularly either sewing at the machine or spinning, knitting doesn’t really do it for me. I took my spindle overseas for this reason, though I admit to feeling a little ridiculous packing my roving on the aeroplanes. (I should definitely finish that quilt when I get home.)

5 goals

  1. Finish my coat. It’s taken long enough.
  2. Spend May 100% me-made (I only need leggings and another bra to make this work)
  3. Knit a whole thing out of my handspun (leaving this open as to what, but so far I only have one quantity large enough for knitting – working on the next though!)
  4. Make my graduation dress – scarily, 2018 is graduation year for me! I have some great silk and a pattern in mind, now, and I’d really like to be wearing something lovely that I made when I graduate.
  5. Learn new techniques – crafting is about learning! I’ve learned things this year – about visible mending, brioche knitting, spinning and other yarn processing – and of course I want to keep doing that.

 

2017 has been a slight rollercoaster of a year for me – I had my final exams of my degree in October (as mentioned, I graduate at the end of 2018, but I have no exams left) so that was clearly a major factor in the year. I had many placements, some fantastic and some terrible, and I had the whole deal of moving to first one, then another country on the world from my home for a few weeks, alone. My flatmates had a baby, and so did other people who I love. It has been a year of love from those around me, and I feel like I’ve been very lucky in the people I’ve had to share it with. Wishing you that 2018 is full of the richness of life and people who you can trust and share life with.

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the latte bra

Hallo all! Merry Christmas from Germany, where I find myself for the next several weeks. My time in Uganda has done, and now I am at the other extreme of the world.

The last thing made this year – to be posted, at least – is my most favouritest bra that I have made. Seriously. (ok, it’s only one of four, it’s not that high a bar)

I decided to try out a new pattern this time, the Harriet bra – it is one of the patterns that becomes the darling of the internet, so I had seen many versions. In this case, I think that is justified; it is a very beautiful pattern.

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My version is made out of a coffee-coloured silk, lined with cotton, and with the usual duoplex fabric for the back and various elastics – dyed with tea, because that’s my standard way of getting cream to match. It’s a slightly different colour to the coffee of the silk, but not a big enough deal to matter. (Except on the underwire casings, which for some reason turned out almost pink. I try not to look at them too often.)

I have some work to do on the fit. It’s wearable, but barely – the band is tight for comfort. On the other hand, the cups seem to fit pretty well – although we’ll see how they are next time, with a looser band, everything affects everything else when it comes to fit – and the band is a super simple fix.

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I went for a super simple design. I didn’t do any lace or bows or anything, and I love the clean lines it gives. (Not that the photos are good enough to see that – I still haven’t worked out how to take good bra photos!) I actually surprised myself by how much I like it this way – but I really do! It also makes it perfect for wearing under lightweight clothing, which I have of course been doing a lot while in Uganda. (Not so much since in Germany.)

There’s not much else to say other than – I wear this, I love the pattern, but I think the band runs tight, at least in my size. I will most certainly make it again – as soon as I get back to Wellington, I have the fabric in mind already – but will add half an inch to each of the wings.

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Another kind of average photo.

So to finish here are some pictures from Christmas in Germany! Have a lovely holiday season (since we’re past Christmas now…)

burgundy wrap dress

I have some kind of compulsion to clear out my blogging queue (at least mostly – there are probably garments I’ve forgotten about) before the year ends, hence this sudden flurry of posts. Plus I have a good place to take photos, and a bit more time on my hands than sometimes (she says. Today’s my last full day here, and I have two different events in the evening, as well as needing to finish packing).

Here is my current favourite garment. I sewed it up before leaving for Uganda (clearly – I don’t have a sewing machine here, and am not fast enough to do this much by hand!) and have a lot of love for it.

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I have not kept track of what the pattern is; it was a Vogue one, but I don’t have the packet in front of me, and honestly I wouldn’t recommend it particularly. Much as I love the dress. There were two views – one with gathers at the shoulder, and one without – and perhaps the one without would be a better fit, but I chose to go with the gathers, and it gaped like mad. I’ve never made a wrap dress before, and I understand that gaping is a common problem, but this was actually ridiculous. I’ve taken out a 2″ dart at each shoulder, which helps, but I still feel like there’s a little too much fabric in the bodice, and at the moment I’m holding it shut with safety pins each time I wear it. (It would be snaps, but I left them behind in Wellington – and I also think when I’m here in Uganda I want the snap to be a little higher than something I might be ok with back home). The skirt is great though. It’s a half-circle plus some overlap, I think (could be 3/4 circle? I didn’t measure it properly, but it’s definitely not as full as a full circle) and somehow, I have no idea how, it sits very flat over my abdomen and makes me look skinny, which I’m not particularly. Nonetheless, in that aspect it’s one of the most flattering garments I’ve ever made. I think in future I might try the version of the pattern without gathers at the shoulder, and see if that sits neater in the bodice – if it does, I will be a lot more complimentary about this pattern. (And tell you what it is…)

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(This is me, who lives in the windiest city in the world, contemplating making more wrap dresses…)

The fabric is a rayon crepe from The Fabric Warehouse – source of many of my favourite fabrics, especially rayons. It’s clearly a designer offcut, as my sister found the same fabric on a shirt in a shop (I think I commented on another post that that had happened – I got confused about which post was what). I think a lot of what I love about the dress is the fabric. It’s incredibly fluid, almost watery – obviously this makes for something a little hard to manage in the sewing, and by default I cut fabrics like this single-layer on the carpet to minimise shifting while I’m trying to cut it out, but it also gives the fabric such a good drape for the wearing. I think this may be part of the magic waist minimisation properties.

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I can’t get over how slim I look in it…

The pattern doesn’t actually have waist ties – instead it has snaps, and an optional belt – but I adjusted it because if I make a wrap dress, I’m doing it properly. It took some thought, and I accidentally put the hole to fit the ties through in the opposite side from intended, but it now wraps properly.

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I normally choose to tie at the side, but the ties are long enough to wrap the whole way around and tie at the back if I prefer. Options!

And, of course, it has pockets. It took a LOT of thought to work out pockets that wouldn’t just flap around, on a wrap dress, but I think I have success. I did side-seam pockets, but I placed them right at the top of the skirt side seams, so they’re attached into the waist seam as well. I should have taken a photo of the pocket piece – it’s more-or-less the same shape as a yoke pocket would be, just it’s closed over at the front. They are exceptionally successful pockets – they lie really flat, and hold my phone or keys or whatever very neatly. Honestly, these are some of the best pockets I’ve made. The white lining does poke out just a little, but it’s the same fabric as the ties and the binding, so I am of the opinion that it doesn’t really matter.

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And a few detail shots – hand-rolled hems, binding in the place that hasn’t been discoloured by living in Uganda (it’ll need a thorough wash once I get it somewhere else), and the fabric detail.

Just one photo from my trip – today I met a chameleon called Alexander!

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(He had a friend called Bob, who was considerable larger, but I didn’t get any photos of him.)

Goodbye!

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viola tee

I grew up with a sister who played the viola, and spent a lot of her time telling people that no, it is not a violin, and no, it is not pronounced like the flower, or the name. Until this year, I had no real need to pronounce them the other way, and I had nothing to do with the flowers really. Or anyone called Viola, which is hardly a common name in my country. This all changed this spring, when I decided I wanted to put some ground-cover flowers into my garden, and violas were my favourites of the options in the store. I think they’re rather a sweet flower, actually.

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This fabric has been sitting in my stash with the intention of becoming a Scout tee for rather a long time, but I always thought it was just a little boring to stand alone – much as I love the fabric. My initial plan was to block print some leafy pattern onto it, but that was not happening and not happening, so when I was going out to my Granddad’s house for a day I decided to bring along the fabric and some embroidery threads, and see what might happen. And this all happened just a little after I planted my tiny wee violas in the garden. So when it came to deciding what to embroider, that was top of the list. (I’ve only ever embroidered two garments, and both of them are based on my favourite garden plant at the time…)

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I admit that the vine and other flowers are based on nothing in particular, just a general sense of floralness. I feel a little sad about this, but they did give the impression I wanted, and I still think it looks lovely.

I did the embroidery by tracing out the pattern onto the fabric, but only cutting it very roughly around the neck area, so that I had enough fabric for the hoop without it distorting anything. For anyone who’s interested, the technical details are: stem stitch for all the stems, french knots for the tiny flowers, and Anundsjö stitch (this was a new one to me) for the leaves, big flower, and butterfly. I like this stitch because it gives a colour fill in the same way as a satin stitch, but it’s lighter in weight and therefore fits better with the very lightweight cotton lawn for the tee – real satin stitch would be far too stiff.

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I am pretty proud of my insides. I wanted to make them as neat as possible – there was no way I was lining this, it’s designed for the heat, but I need to be able to wash it without anything snagging or pulling out.

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(admittedly the butterfly was the best, as it was the last I did But nothing’s very messy)

I guess I should also include some photos of it on me…

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but, I mean, you’ve seen Scout tees before, on me. It’s exactly the same in the fit and the way it sits.

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and it’s FANTASTIC in this heat. I need everything I own to be made out of this fabric. (Unfortunately, you have to wear pants or a skirt with a tee like this, and none of the ones I have are quite as good in the heat as this top. But they’re ok.)

This week, actually, has been a really interesting demonstration of how much humidity affects the heat. I spent five days in Gulu last week, which is in the north of Uganda; it’s a good 5-6 degrees hotter there, but it also has very pronounced wet and dry seasons, and this is the dry season. Returning to Kampala, I’m noticing that I actually find the heat more difficult here, because it’s humid. There are certainly other factors – such as that I live on the top of a hill, whereas Gulu is flat – but I really miss the dry, clean heat up there, compared to Kampala.

Actually, I just miss Gulu. I was visiting some New Zealanders there, friends of a friend of mine – I had not met them before, but we had a wonderful week together, and I really enjoyed seeing what they do and where they live and just getting to hang out with people who also enjoy card games and chat and have some similar values and (of course) cultural backgrounds, being also from my country. I was originally only going to be there for three days, but I pushed it out by a day twice. Not a very hard decision.

The photos show where I was staying; they live in a mud hut, with a second one for guests (which was filled by someone else). The third photo was my room, in a house on the same clearing – I spent very little time there though. As you can see it is rather basic, with only a mattress and mosquito net, and did not even have electricity (this is a drama, as I gather, there have been problems with getting the electricity connected – the mud huts run on solar).

For some reason today I have rather a lot of outtakes, so here are a few!

Have a great week.