Garden parties

This, now, is a quiet weekend in between my two weeks of orthopaedic surgery placement. In a happy turn of events, the placement has turned out rather a lot better than anticipated – I was not looking forward to this, given that I don’t enjoy theatre as a thing, and also have very limited interest in trauma. I have noticed some differences of opinion between the surgeons and myself (them: “this is a very interesting case! Very exciting!” Me: “it’s… a broken arm.”) but for the most part they are lovely and keen to teach students their bits and pieces. That makes a lot of difference. As a student, you perpetually feel slightly out of place and in the way, and while friendly people around you never quite eliminates that (in my experience) it does make a lot of difference.

Given that I’m not interested in orthopaedics, I’m hoping instead to practise examining many many joints over the next few weeks – one of the most common questions to a medical student is “I hurt my knee, can you tell me what’s wrong?” Today I used my newfound knowledge with my flatmate, and was able to inform her that I’m pretty sure she hasn’t damaged any of the key structures, and therefore it is probably a sprain. (The lump on her leg, on the other hand, I did not have an opinion on…)

Well, on to the fabric side of things… Somehow  I’ve been managing to sew a little, but actually this is from over the summer.


I made this dress for my birthday. For Christmas I made a million gifts in not enough time for that (ok, four. But one of them was my first ever swimsuit. The point stand). and this was my detox sewing – I cut it out one afternoon in the dark time in between, when I had finished two of the four gifts, one was handsewing I was doing in my lunch breaks, and the fabric for the swimsuit was seeming more and more likely not to arrive on time to sew it. I wanted something gentle to sew, with no deadline, and with proper finishes – french seams everywhere, tiny rolled hems, and a full lining.


The pattern is based off my trusty NL 6143, as seen in several places – I really just use it as my bodice block at this point, I can’t remember when I last a) sewed it according to pattern or b) sewed a dress that wasn’t based on it at some level. Clearly, I altered it rather this time – I drew on the cap sleeves straight to the fabric, and cut it out as that, which was a mistake rather (I had to cut them down a lot to make them wearable, but I also like them better shorter) but seems to be ok. If I did it again I’d cut away the fabric a little less on the back and more on the top and front of the sleeve. In fact, I periodically consider doing it – but let’s be real, a garment once worn is not going to be altered.


The ties were a bit of a fun experiment. I knew from the start that I wanted a dress with a slightly looser silhouette, but with ties to bring it in as much as I wanted – it’s clearly designed for summer, and there are some days that a tight-fitting waist makes the heat so much worse. I cut out pretty much as normal, but sewed all bodice seams 1/8-1/4″ smaller than intended, so got an extra 1.5″ or so in the width. The ties are three layers sandwiched together, and carefully pieced to get as much length as possible – this was actually a panel print, not border print, so the border edges were not continuous and straight, so it was a little care required.


I’m pretty proud of how I managed the panel print. I really like how it’s lined up on the skirt, and the ties recollecting it. The skirt is made of three entirely uneven sized panels, made to the size that made sense with the print. I think the only thing I’d change is to lengthen the ties slightly, now that I see the photos. They’re also pretty frustrating from the pressing perspective – I did press them before these photos, so they’re lying reasonably well, but they tend to bunch up a bit.


I really enjoyed the process of making this dress, and since then I’ve worn it an almost excessive number of times! It is such a lovely feeling to wear – soft and swooshy – and I feel curvy in all the best ways in it, and so elegant. I absolutely adore it, so I’m sad to be reaching the point of the year to be putting it away for a while – but that’ll just increase how excited I am for it next spring!

I took rather a number of photos of this, so there are a few more – plus some garden!



(I adore how odd this photo is)



(All the photos are taken in the little overgrown patch at the bottom of our garden – isn’t it lovely?)


Summer is for swimming

Well, this summer hasn’t had enough swimming by my standards – but the fault for that lies in the weather and the fact that by the time the skies cleared and the wind stilled I was back to university and placements. But in theory, summer and ocean swims are inseparable in my head.

My making has crept a long way ahead of my blogging these days, but I now have a functional camera so we at least have a chance of catching up (once I take stock of what I have that I haven’t photographed – it’s hard to keep track, it’s been so long). But here’s one of the things I’m most proud of: swimming togs!


I’ve been intending to make a pair for a long time, but I’ve also been terrified of it. So this is an achievement. There are a million things I’d do differently (starting with having a machine that caught every stitch…) but I feel amazing when I wear these, and I don’t think any of the issues are major enough to redo them. Certainly not at this stage of the summer… We’ve had many days of superb swimming weather recently, but they started at about the point where I went back to class for the year, so these have only seen the sea a handful of times.


The fit is, well, ok. It’s good enough to wear, for sure, but the cups are too shallow and the bridge too wide for my chest, resulting in slightly less support (while being simultaneously far better support than any swimwear I’ve ever owned). I’ve also already graded the cup size up from the largest offered, and need to do another, so I’m slightly underimpressed by the pattern sizing options. I wear DD-E bras, so my bust size is large, but not actually that big. I expected better of a pattern advertised with 5 cup sizes, to be honest.

I also had a difference of about 6 sizes between my underbust and my hip measurements, which seemed excessive to me. I am pear-shaped, and normally I find my hip measurement is one size larger than my waist which is one size larger than my bust. This was not that. I get that different designers use different fit models, but actually one of the reasons I chose to do a bikini instead of a one-piece was that I didn’t want to fluff around with grading between that many sizes. (The other was that I wasn’t making a muslin because of lack of similar fabric, and width is a lot easier to fudge once you’ve constructed it than length is.)(I did fudge the width a bit, in the bottom half – it really needed width taken out at the back princess seams, but because of my construction it was easier to take it out at the side seams. I haven’t transferred it to my pattern yet, so Let This Stand for future Rowena – 3/8″ off each back princess seam please!)


I spent some time on pattern placement. This is way more obvious on the left cup than the right. I’m pretty happy with the colour combinations, as chosen over the internet, as well. And the flowered fabric, which I didn’t intend to buy.

(OK, that’s a story I probably do want to tell. I bought this fabric from Pitt Trading in Aus, and my experience with that was pretty mixed. They sold the fabric for a good price (+1 point) and when it came it was good quality (+1) but I had to change two of the fabrics I ordered – I ordered about 5 different fabrics, for me and two sisters – because they were on the website but no longer available (-1) and we had some emails back and forth that they took as long as a week to reply to (-1). It ends out even, I guess.)


In my ever-so-lengthy bramaking experience (three. Including this.) underwires truly are the most fiddly step of bramaking, and foam cups do make them more difficult. Foam cups are worth it if you’re going to be swimming in this and nothing else though. Definitely. And I really like the edge finish on the cups you get (you see that lovely 1/8″ line of fabric on the edge of the cup? Beautiful).

A personal style musing – I’ve never worn a bikini before in my life. I love this one. I still feel like there’s a good amount of coverage, but I also feel absolutely stunning. I feel this pattern does all the good things for my curves. I am not self-conscious swimming in this, and I do feel beautiful. (Side note – recently I’ve switched from feeling self-conscious and ashamed when people mention my belly – which is a surprisingly common occurrence – to feeling angry. My body is not their business.)


That’s enough for today. I’ll leave you with a photo of my most beautiful plants – ka kite ano!


(Another time I’ll talk about medicine and becoming a doctor, ok? I have many thoughts)

Summer days

In lieu of a proper garment post, here are some little photos of things I’ve been playing with in the summer…


This is a couple of months of attempts at spinning – I’m getting better! It’s definitely fun games.


This is some of my more recent spinning attempts – it’s a slightly different technique, which is giving me much more uneven yarn (since I haven’t practised much) but it’s much softer to feel.


Can you see that the colour’s slightly different in these samples? It’s pretty subtle… I’ve tried out some natural dyeing over the break, but only one colour has given meaningful results. I think the ones above are bottlebrush flowers and dandelion heads, but I’ve also tried eucalypt bark, avocado pits and two types of lichens without huge success.


Witness that one colour… This is white baby wool dyed with onion skins – I think the colour is gorgeous (this isn’t quite accurate) and the pattern is pretty lovely too. The baby it’s for was born yesterday, cardigan finished and gifted today. She’s beautiful – it was so lovely to be able to meet her so soon.

And as well as all that yarn stuff, I have been growing big carrots and tiny garlics. (The garlic is pretty sad, actually – that’s one of the larger heads. Not really a success this year.)


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.