Being Frank…

Accepting my failings


Congratulations Vicki Kate !!!!


Vicki Kate is expecting an addition to her family…soon…very soon…in fact possibly sooner than originally expected….and following some plotting by Annabelle a number of us conspired to welcome this new bundle of Joy to the world

So congratulations Vicki Kate and family and wishing you every happiness as your family of 3 becomes a family of 4…

So what is it that snowy dog wants to send to you Vicki Kate ?  Well this time Tuesday it looked like this:


I sort of ran out of time… not because there was a suggestion that the happy event might be earlier than thought but more because when I tried to take photos last Saturday I decided it was too small, so I ripped out the last 2 rows and added another 2 stripes…at the outer edges there were so many stitches on the needle that each row was taking 15 minutes.

I cast off again Tuesday night and gave it a very quick wash. The reverse side currently looks like this:


But the right side, although still a work in progress looks like this:


Pattern:  OpArt

Yarn:  Sirdar Snuggly DK

Needles: 4mm

New/Learned: To leave more time for completion

Many Congratulations again Vicki Kate, wishing you every happiness as a family…

For those who want to see the other conspirators please check out

Thread Carefully

Dotty Doodle

Modern Vintage Cupcakes


Symon Sez




What would you do with 2 hours extra a day ?

If suddenly you had 2 hours extra per day, 2 hours that had previously been taken up with something unavoidable but dull…such as commuting…what would you do with it ?

Clean the house more ? (or even at all)

Cook ?

Knit ?

Veg in front of the television ?

Read a book ? (Read lots of books !)

Sew ?

Spend time with your family ?

Exercise away the excess fat that comes with a years comfort eating and drinking plus being over 40 ?

All of the above ?

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FO: Pikkuveli

I love Pikkuveli…I’ve loved Pikkuveli since the first time I saw it almost 5 years ago…unfortunately I forgot children grow and I almost missed my chance because I a) couldn’t decide on what colours to use b) was waiting for the right yarn…

Last summer I bit the bullet, bought some cascade, cast on one wet weekend in Brussels and pretty much kept knitting until it was finished… but then spent too long chosing buttons…

I’m not going to say anymore, I’m just going to let Pikkuveli and Spider  say it all

pikkuveli 1


pikkuveli 3

pikkuveli 4

pikkuveli 5


pikkuveli 2


Pattern  Pikkuveli by Suvi Simola

Yarn  Cascade  220 in grey, navy and bright light blue (can I just say I love love love this yarn…it is a pleasure to knit with)

New:  Can’t remember as I finished this August 2012…possibly the Icord buttonhole band…not the slip stitch sleeve  honeycomb pattern as that was used in an Ysolda Teague pattern, possibly cain…

Unfortunately Spider is almost too long/tall to wear it…however his handknit jumpers have a long life as pretty much every boy in the street ends up having them passed down to them…I feel that my knitting is loved !



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Yehaaaaaaaaaa! It’s the WIP roundup…

I’m hoping towards the end of this week to start putting photographs on the blog again having now sorted out my technological issues…in the meantime a status report…

This month the emphasis has been on decluttering rather than making,  so not much stash busting but little purchasing so I guess I end the month on a win

WIP’s first since I am feeling quite pleased with myself… you see I’ve finished my Mum’s cardigan…ok so when I say finished I mean I’ve stopped knitting, Mum is unfortunately still waiting for the finished article as it needs ends sewn in, sewing up washing blocking.  Pikkuveli on the other hand now has buttons and is in the cupboard waiting for winter

Myrna is on the naughty step but Liam and Catkin have both been examined, detangled and places found in the pattern

Everything else remains untouched or unphotograph or both

In sewing Hollyburn has been recut and is waiting resewing…nothing else resolved…I was too busy getting through second sleeve syndrome


Yarn –I ended July with 5556 grams and have ended August with 5756 having purchased 2 balls of sock yarn whilst on holiday (from a German supermarket) – I have however run out of hat sized bits of leftovers and have donated lots of ends of balls to an organisation in Nottingham who amongst other things are knitting poppies 

Material     Stash end of July 9959cm  Stash at end of August 9809cm

I made 2 Mabel’s this month although I counted 1 of them in the last round up. Both need hemming…neither of which are likely to be hemmed this side of Christmas (not even the one that was the right side) as I have it on good authority that the Mabel is not for me!

Fabric used 1.5 metres, 0.5 metres from stash…

However, none purchased… not sure I will be saying that next month as the weather is turning and thoughts are turning to thicker fabrics…of which I seem to own few…

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PJS for Spider – 3 different pairs, 3 different sewing finishes

One of my favourite photographs of Spider is one of him asleep age 1 wearing proper button up PJ’s. I love my boy in PJ’s, it gets me deep inside where my maternal instinct is submerged…unfortunately my heart-strings don’t get tugged very much these days as he has decided that big boys don’t wear PJ’s and either sleeps in a pair of pants or in the altogether like his Dad and step brothers

However he is not averse to the occasional funky pair of PJ bottoms, especially on a Sunday morning when he refuses to get dressed at all but will “lounge” in a pair of Mum made cotton trousers

In the first week of January I tried to get my sewjo back and whipped up 3 pairs of McCalls 4103 for my boy

The first was a quick and dirty pair dashed off to try to get an idea of fit as he has grown a lot since I last made anything for him


Squeezed out of just over a metre of end of the roll polka dots (I think it is a Hill Berg)  from Fabricland.  The cost was just over  £4… they may  have been party to a washing accident as in some lights they look vaguely like pink dots. I made no real effort with the seaming and just pinked the seams…

The  next pairs came from material  specially  purchased for Spiders PJ’s.. but count as stash busting as they have been in the cupboard for over 9 months.


The skulls were meant to be an exercise in getting French seams right and not ending up with a raw seam on the outside. Just after cutting the first leg out I also decided I should try to get the lines of skulls to be level all around… which I pretty much  succeeded with…but then  overcompensated on the French seams due to concentrating too much on getting the skulls level  so the seams seem wider than planned 😦


Fabric :   not sure  who the manufacture is but I bought 1.5 metres from Mo’s in Rugby for about  £8

New: Nothing, except perhaps print matching

The final pair are  summer inspired… camper vans are an important part of this family


Fabric   is from Fabric land (and who doesn’t like camper vans ?) Possibly Hill Berg again and I used 1.5 metres at £3.99 I think

New  Serged ! Yes these  babies were made with an overlocker

The aim of the exercise here  though was to simply get the overlocker out of its box, threaded and with the motor running…  MISSION ACCOMPLISHED AND OVERACHIEVED !!!

Am not scared of threading my overlocker…But I am having issues with “grin through” and can’t seem to be able to get the tension right on the needle… shortly after these PJ’s through I ran scared from the overlocker after I had 2 needles break one after the other…

Hardest bit of this make ? Getting photographs of the PJ’s in action


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It’s not you…it’s me…oh alright it really is you

When things go wrong there are 2 ways of dealing with it…the first is to press on through, keep on keeping on until you manage to work out what you are doing wrong, sort it out… get through it and come out on the otherside a stronger person having learned and conquered… and hopefully also with a new piece of handmade clothing/accessory/thing

The second way is to toss the offending item in a corner (time out on the naughty step) moving on to something else…hopefully something that isn’t going to kick ones backside in the same way…if it does then maybe give the sewing machine/yarn stash some space and a bit of me time !

Guess which option I go for… yep I opt for the thrill of the new crafting liaison every time.


Unfortunately I am not capable of wiping the slate clean and just forgetting the affair ever happened…I hang on to the baggage and it haunts me…in fact the UFO box taunts me every time I open the cupboard…



Let me tell you about the bag that broke me…and possibly Gary (my brother PS31).

Now I was no stranger to this bag…I had made it twice before and admittedly neither had been the fastest of makes purely because I dislike making 5cm bias binding but both bags had turned out well…so when I decided to make a project bag for a friend and work colleague JJ I turned to the Reversible bucket bag pattern from Lisa Lam.




It’s a good pattern. It’s well written and, when complete the bag is quite impressive, especially if you get your fabric choice right. Get your fabric choice wrong and you will hate the entire process and it will take forever…as aside from the bias binding there are quite a lot of steps involved before you can step back smiling to take your “happy project” photograph… not so much a labour of love as the road to hell (and possibly divorce from your sewing machine).

Gary as I have mentioned before does not like tough fabric – so what  possessed me to use the leftovers from the trousers of doom heaven only knows…and a reversible bag needs two outside fabrics…so I ensured that this project was not going to end happily ever after by choosing a similar fabric in pink for the second outside

I was hoping to have the bag finished in time for the Knitting and Stitching show at Ally Pally…the one I went to with JJ in October 2012…but the experience of sewing even part of it left me so drained that the bag spent an eternity on the naughty step…I finally finished it in September 2013…and it has then taken a further year for me to face photographing it.


 (I dislike this bag so much I can’t be bothered to photograph it in daylight)

I hated it so much and had made so many basic errors that I couldn’t bring myself to give it to JJ…so I’ve kept it…and it is currently acting as project bag for my latest UFO… Liam which is a jumper for Spider which I love in theory….but the reality of knitting it is dragging me down…and yes when faced with the option of knitting on Liam or casting on something new guess what I choose.

The bag that broke me was only finished as a result of a day off and extreme carrot and stick technique… Carrot and stick involves doing some of something you hate with the reward of something you like doing. Extreme carrot and stick involves doing something you hate (cleaning the oven) for an hour and then doing something you also don’t want to do, but hate marginally less for an hour…and keep going until you finish both activities…

Sometimes you have to be tough with baggage…you can’t let it hang over you forever draining the pleasure out of what is meant to be done because you enjoy it…you either finish it or fling it where UFO’s belong, outer space….


(Image borrowed from the

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Round up the WIPs and then Stash Down !

I had planned to add some photos to this post but having been awake since 5.30am and spending 2 hours sneezing my head off I’ve decided just to post it as is and retire to the sofa… it may  be odd to have a duvet day on a Saturday but I am, the housework can go hang…

Anyway, back to the subject at hand.  I am not, as I have mentioned very good with “to do lists” or routines, timetables etc outside of work. This is why I don’t tend to join in with sewalongs or knitalongs as I get stressed about it and it takes the pleasure out of the act of creating.

BUT I get equally stressed over clutter and having too many things on the go at once…or too much housework/DIY/Gardening… or too much material or yarn that has yet to be turned into garments  (that’s a guilt thing, it feels wasteful and profligate to have it hanging around)

So sometimes it is easier to man up and project manage the clutter – to set out goals and aims, rules such as “you can’t do that, until you have done this..” and have carrots to go with the sticks  BUT importantly…no formal deadlines…

So  I’m turning my Stash Down into more of a monthly audit and am adding in the Works in Progress…as long as I do “something” on each then I get brownie points…enough brownie points…or even a finished object then I can start something new (carrot).


Yarn – I ended June with 5956 grams and ended July with 5556 grams. A reduction of about 400g. Most of this was Myrna though 175grams but I then (see below) frogged most of what I had knit. I made a lot of hats but most of these were m leftovers which don’t count in the stash total (life is too short to weigh leftovers)… There were however 100g of Debbie Bliss Prime and 25g of a very old pure wool aran, picked up in a charity shop.

Yarn purchased – none



Stash end of June 13,959cm   Stash end of July 9959cm  reduction of 400cm

All of this was accounted for by Gabriola, but it wasn’t stash…and Gabriola went horribly wrong and ended up in the WIP pile…

Fabric purchased – none



Myrna – pretty much finished the body…and then ripped part of it back…fortunately it’s a quick knit

Catkin – stalled and haven’t been able to face it for over 6 months…needs slipping off the needles, trying it on and then working out some alterations…and then slogging my way up over the bust…this is not a quick knit !

Long Line Cardigan – this is Mum’s Christmas present…will be finished by September, I have hit second sleeve syndrome.

Liam – Jumper for Spider… slogging my way up the front with 16 tiny balls of yarn. This month I have untangled it all and wound the yarn onto small bobbins…I fear Spider may have outgrown it already

Pikkuvuli – needs 2 buttons. Been stalled whilst I find where I put them

Flower Pin – not touched – keep losing all the bits before I get chance to sew them up

Lego Man – not touched in months, keep losing the pattern and the needles and I made a mess of embroidering on the face…

League of Justice – meant to finish these for Spider’s birthday…missed the deadline so stalled. All they need is sewing up

Alan Dart Owls – knitting done, just needs sewing up – I hate making up toys

Of the sewing

Hollyburn – needs unstitching, the side seams recutting and then sewing up again

Gabriola –  unpicked the yoke, this needs recutting

Tirimisu – Need to reassess pattern size and possibly recut the bits that stretched

Kimono – Needs neck binding removed and reattached

Mable – hem

Pink Straight Skirt – hem

On the plus side I have just sewed the ends in on a whole stack of hats and things. Just need to photograph them, block them… but not sure there are any brownie points earned…. unless completley redecorating Spider’s room counts…and believe me that is worth a picture…maybe when I’ve stopped malingering on the sofa…

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K.I.S.S  aka I’m my own worst enemy

At the end of May my sewing bit me on the backside and it took me all of June and part of July to man up and face the sewing machine again.

 In these circumstances a sensible person would choose a nice easy project, something that they have made before and can whip up in an hour…what you should not do is tackle something that involves 5m and a requirement for “piece work” in order to construct the yoke…

 “Well I’m just not very bright…I guess…”

I had a day off…and I cut out Gabriola (sewaholic) which is, apart from the fact it is very big (4-5 yards of fabric !),  and  apart from the yoke actually pretty straightforward…except…   

 Well the day didn’t start very well as the new batch of tracing paper I bought turned out not to be very see through…not to be defeated so early in the day I taped the pattern to the living room window and used it as a very large light box forcing the not- tracing paper to do the job it had been advertised as…

 Cutting out was simple…but never-ending… when I finally got on the machine it came together quite quickly…and then Tim came home and I put it all away to do something else.

 Saturday morning I picked it up again and may not quite have followed the instructions…I may have sewed things in slightly the wrong order…but that doesn’t quite explain the difficulty I had in matching things up… or why the waistband was now not long enough to go all the way round the yoke… I have a horrible feeling that because bits of the yoke are cut on the bias that it may have stretched out with handling…

 [Bias is becoming my nemesis…of the 3 unfinished big items in my work basket all of them have gone awry because of cutting on the bias…or accidentally off grain in the case of the kimono]

 There may also be a little issue to do with possibly cutting the Gabriola out to small…I went straight in with a size 10 based on the fact that when I made the Hollyburn in the 12 it was far too roomy in the waist…

 By this point I was rather upset and may possibly have whined to OMT that I was “fat frumpy and over 40”…at which point he advised me to “Be British about it”…by which he meant, shut up, have a G&T and then think about gardening instead…

 I may still be fat frumpy and 40…but I have a garden full of fairy lights  and we have started planting up the herb garden… Gabriola is on the naughty step and having a long chat with Tiramisu and the Kimono about what they want to be when they grow up… finished possibly might be the answer…

and I can do something about the fat and frumpy part at least…


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FO: The Fairy Gothmother

A long long time ago I decided to make things for all of my friends who turned 40 the same year as I did… last month one of my friends finally received a 40th present…

Now I am known to not be very good at making it to the post office on time but I am not usually this bad…and to be fair we kept thinking that we would be seeing her shortly and we could hand it over then… except we never did… O Mighty Tim did take the present round a couple of times but the Fairy Goth Mother wasn’t in…she’d forgotten to tell us that she’d moved in with her boyfriend (now husband)…

The Fairy Goth Mother is Spider’s Fairy Goth Mother… she is also a very talented cake decorator (our wedding cake was the first she ever did) and provides cakes from “The Witchin’ Kitchen” she is also a a good good friend… so it was wonderful to finally rekindle the friendship at the house of some other friends (we were all helping out with their very last “Open Garden” under the National Open Gardens Scheme).

It was also a relief to finally hand over this young lady…


who had been waiting to go to the ball for a long long time – hell why should it be Cinders who gets to party ?

Unfortunately I was unable to quite capture the facial expression of the one in the book which was our FGM to a “T” however I think the tumbling locks of unruly curls is a pretty close representation on FGM’s real life hair…

Happy 40th FGM…I will try to do better next time

Pattern – Victoria by Annette Hefford
Yarn – various leftovers
Needles – 3mm
New – Nothing new this time round…need to practice making hands though as they were quite difficult

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Blog Header

 I am contemplating a blog revamp and it occurred to me that I probably should explain why a picture of the Thames Barrier adorns the top of this blog

 The barrier is of course a marvel of 1950’s engineering and does a remarkable job in protecting London from flooding. It is staffed by a loyal and devoted bunch of people, loyal and devoted to the aim of protecting London from flooding and I have the remarkable privilege of being their lawyer…well one of them

 So putting this as my heading was mainly so I could check the blog in office hours (lunchtime honest) without anyone getting too nosey about the contents. Being Frank is my slightly more personal blog which I don’t tend to shout about…the more public version of me prattles away on Appetite For Cake.

 However since putting the header up I then as you know disappeared down a rabbit hole…mainly because of worries about that same job…and also the pressure of work !

 So to celebrate coming out of my silence I really should come up with a more interesting picture…unfortunately the planned picture of my apple handbag is not going to happen now having discovered that another blogger with a very wide following has  recently purchased the same handbag and I would rather not look like a stalker…I also must remember not to use it on the days I go to our Solihull office as she is usually standing on the same platform as me for the train before mine…

(my handbag came from Gloucester Docks and was purchased last autumn but hasn’t seen a great deal of use as its not really a winter bag…and the catch is not the strongest and there have been several incidents of the bag exploding leaving me red faced picking my purse and other such from the floor in front of me !)


Spring Sewing Swap

I am not known for my ability to post things on time…I have a fear of the post office these days as the one in Reading has become very automated but not in a way that speeds things up… however I was tempted into the post office queue by the chance to take part in Kerry’s Swing Sewing Swap…

When the swap partners were announced I was delighted to discover I had Maryanne aka Mrs C  (who used to blog as Hectic Eclectic but can now be found at Sent from my iRon)…I have been a long term lurker of Mrs C and had in fact spent a happy 2 days one Christmas working my way through her archived posts (instead of working…).

But then I suddenly thought, “Oh my God, she runs a craft shop/haberdashers, how am I going to find something she hasn’t already got…”  I needn’t have worried however as not only is Maryanne very nice and friendly…she also has an alter ego called Constance Craving who turned out to be very easy to buy for…my share of the swap can be found over here

Despite the panic and worry, there is very much an upside of swapping with someone who runs a haberdashers…because…they run a haberdashers !!!

I very much hit the jackpot with my allocated swapper and I am very happy about it as I was gifted such wonderful goodies



That yummy wool you can see in the photo in the most beautiful of blood reds is not just genuine New Zealand merino, nor is it just genuine New Zealand merino with possum but genuine New Zealand merino with possum and silk…wooohoo… so so soft

And on top of that a fabulous length of material with kiwi birds all over it…which fits in great with my recent birds obsession…plus some funky tapes for sewing into projects or tying on to parcel….

I know just the pattern for the merino, and this one is for me…time for some selfish knitting I think

Thank you Mrs C, it’s been a blast corresponding with you…and legitimately stalking your blog !

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Note to Self: Don’t forget to stuff the owl

The other night was hot, we were sleeping with the window open, and in the distance through the still night air I heard a peacock call and it brought back some memories…

Memory 1: Warwickshire 1993. I’m lodging with some old friends, one of whom I also work with. As usual I’m the first one up. I go down to make tea, feed the cats… I open the curtains and find a peacock looking straight back at me…turns out the people in the big house opposite have them and one escaped.

Memory 2:  1997. I am working for a firm of solicitors down near southampton, commuting from Reading. They have a skeleton office staff on saturday morning. Me. 7am and I am on the M3…I pass a swan walking down the fast lane…

Memory 3: 2006 heading back from Banbury after a morning at a soft play centre I spy an owl in the middle of the road…it looks dazed and confused as its obviously not used to being awake in the daylight…with more emotion than sense I stop the car, the Owl lets me move it to a bush at the side of the road.

Birds have been on my mind of late…since Christmas I have made a Robins Egg hat, an Owl sweater, a Hollyburn skirt with the most fantastic bluebird print (and Fabricland have the same fabric in 3 different colourways…yay! They also have peacock and flamingo themed fabric or did I may have bought the shop ) and this evening I am stuffing an owl…with plans for a second before the week has finished.

Note: As I sat here drafting this I realised I was being watched. This evening I came home and found feathers all over the kitchen floor but no sign of the inevitable dead bird…several hours later I noticed a blackbird being everso still and scared perched on the curtain rail…fortunately O Mighty Tim was able to persuade it to leave out the living room window

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The shirt that broke me…the pass the parcel cowboy shirt

Today in Spider’s schoolbag I found a note from school asking parents to provide costumes for this years school play, I was somewhat relieved to discover it involved dark T-shirt, dark trousers and if possible “anything to make them look like a witch or wizard”…yay ! Nothing for me to do.

Now before you go marking me down as a grump let me tell you about last year, how I did my bit, and how as a result I didn’t touch the sewing machine for about 3 months.

The School was doing “Yehaaaw!” a musical about cowboys, Spider was in the chorus and needed a checked cowboy shirt, no problem I said he has a loud green checked one…I’ll just go get i… oh! Yep I’d had a clear out and got rid of anthing he’d grown out of including the shirt. “No problem” said Mum “I’ll pick one up in Tesco”.

However, shocked at the sudden rise in the cost of kids clothing Mum decided “No problem, I have checked material, I have a pattern I have a sewing machine.”  Well Mum got as far as tracing the pattern and cutting it out and then remembered she had social commitments for the rest of the week so sent Spider home with the bits and the words “Just tell your Mum to follow the instructions, and by the way it needs to be finished by Tuesday”,

This was I think Friday…  “whaaat ! Mum, I’ve never done a shirt”

“I told you, just follow the instructions”

Well after swimming on saturday morning I sat down and struggled to work out which bits were what and which way up they went…some of the paper patterns had become detatched…and by the end of Saturday I had the yokes attached to the back and the fronts, the yokes attached to each other at the shoulder added the button placket…and then attached the collar upside down…time to walk away from the sewing machine…Sunday I unpicked the collar, reattached it the right way up, and sewed in I think 1 sleeve and then came a cropper on the cuffs…

The cuffs were button up cuffs which not only had a strange folded split in them but involved sewing through double layers of fabric and interfacing and Gary, my sewing machine who had already been making uncomfortable signs about the yokes then threw a major hissy fit snarled up, refused to budge and then the needle broke…

By now I was hot bothered, getting panicky, I am really no good when made to sew to deadline, and I was getting worried that Spider would be left without a shirt, so Sunday evening the shirt was parcelled up and passed back to Mum  “can you do it by Tuesday ?”

“No problem, forgot to tell you, Tuesday is only the dress rehearsal, the actual performance is at the end of the week. I’ve got you tickets !!!”

suffice to say that Mum sorted out the tricky tough cuffs, added the second sleeve, sewed the side seams and added button holes…her side of the story can be found over at Is it Finished ?

It’s as wonky as hell, but boy does Spider make a cool cowboy – photos of him are at Is it Finished? (including the waistcoat made several years ago by Mum when the school asked the kids to dress as Victorians)…all I managed was a quick snap of the shirt before he put it on




So, no more sewing for a deadline…and no more heavy duty fabrics until I get around to upgrading Gary…but whisper it, I’m not ready to replace the Brother PS31 yet…and I don’t want him getting upset…although, this year it doesn’t matter quite as much as I’m not making the costume

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Stash Down

Sometime ago I made a sewresolution that I would find the perfect skirt pattern by making 3 skirts a month, different skirt each month… then I came down with flu and lost my sewjo for almost a year…

I started again this January…because lets face it I wear skirts a lot both for work and for home…and 12 months on I was still in the same clothing crisis I was in the previous January – I hate buying clothes, I’m sorry but there it is, I know I should be drummed out of the girls club… don’t fit in, never have, never will…stopped trying anyway…

Anyway this time there is a twist…a twist because I am feeling guilty and afraid that I may be turning into a cloth hoarder (but the prints are so pretty and the knits feel so goooooood !)…so wherever possible I shop the stash first before I buy

These are the results so far…I can’t give percentages as “stash” is an ever changing state of being… and I take a loose definition in that its anything that’s been in the house for more than 6 months…

January – sewed just under 7 metres from stash out of a total of 9.5 metres

February – 3 metres sewn from stash, 3 metres sewn all told

March – 6.5 metres sewn from stash out of a total of 6.5 metres

April – 4.5 metres stash, 4.5 metres sewn total

Then thing started to go a bit wrong

May – 5 metres, all out of my Mum’s stash, although tecnnically 2 metres were mine just were living at Mum’s…all of which were charity shop finds so I guess if we were keeping score I’d get points for that ?

June – none, not sewn there is still time and I do sort of have a skirt on the go but I’ve been lost in a house reorganisation…besides this is a skirt out of leftovers and I’m not sure how you count that

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A mission of a sort of…

For one reason or another I seem to have spent most of this year with unselfish knitting…pretty much everything seems to have been for someone else…especially hats.

Considering that I am a knitter it is surprising how few hats I actually own…and I complain about the short comings of the ones I do own…possibly because if I’ve been making it for someone else I’ve ripped back mistakes whereas with my own I’ve just left it…which is stupid really as with my own hat I will constantly be reminded of my mistake…

So I’ve decided on a mission…admittedly partly motivated by an ever growing mountain of left overs that I am going to make a hat a week from now until the end of the year…


This is “who ?” based on the Kate Davis Owl pattern…bit scared…I’m making something for me that’s not red… the yarn has done quite well so far, it’s left overs from an Adelle Cowl I made at Christmas, then it made a Butterflies hat (last week in fact as this is week 2) and now hopefully I’ll have enough to finish Who…making the child’s version on the grounds that I actually have a small head… nothing to do with the fact I may or may not be playing chicken with the end of the yarn…I think I may be losing…

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How’s tricks ?


“Hey, Currantbun, where you been ?”

“Nowhere…just busy…”

“Busy Knitting ?”

“er…no…not really”

“sewing then ? You finally got to grips with that sewing machine of yours ?”


“So what have you been doing ?”


“What burlesque like ?”


“But you do them corsets don’t you ?”

“Er…yes…sort of, but no, not been making lingerie or strutting my stuff”

“What exactly HAVE you been doing ?”


door 2

Hmmm, so that doesn’t look very impressive does it ? Maybe I should have taken a before… here’s the one from upstairs which hasn’t been finished yet….

door 3

When I was last on these pages I was looking forward to a day of peace and quiet and listening to Desert Island Discs…well it didn’t happen. I wanted a day of not doing, instead I was required to organise, sort, arrange and generally be in charge…so I did…

And then on the Monday I took a day off because I needed a day where I wasn’t needed or wanted or expected to sort problems out. O Mighty Tim was back so I didn’t have to be Mum, I didn’t have to be the one and only parent. The boss was also back so I didn’t have to manage. I took a day off, a day to be me.

I’d like to say I knitted or sewed but my head needed something I could do that was because I wanted it done and that would have a clear and successful physically apparent outcome so I stripped paint off the door ! It helped that this door has been the source of irritation for a number of years but more importantly I was in charge and answerable to no-one… yeah, I know control freak…this tendency comes out most when decorating is involved

Unfortunately that was probably the only day in the last year that I can count as a success…ok that may be an exaggeration but it has been one long stress fest ever since including but not limited too…

– Stress of the accidental pass the parcel sew along (post to follow)
– Packing from holiday
– The loss of Even Bear
– O mighty Tim’s job issues and him being bullied at work

OMT’s job worked out in the end though as he sorted his problem out by finding another job, better paid, 25 miles closer to home and with a more prestigious firm.

My job however came under threat almost as soon as his sorted itself out. The people I work for announced more cuts to the tune of 1700 axed posts. This has been a source of on going stress as, having announced the cuts, management were very slow in producing the plans. However tomorrow I should find out where I fit in to this brave new world.

In the meantime the job itself got busier. In September the hearings for a certain London project started. I had been helping head office out on it for several months and was due to bow out as they had a new starter. Unfortunately the colleague I had been helping out was diagnosed with breast cancer so instead of me taking a step back I was plunged even further into the London project whilst at the same time the planning law side of my own job suddenly woke up from its 3 year dormant state and I found myself prepping for 2 planning appeals of my own in addition to the London project.

In December the boss suddenly announced he was having a week off and I ended up with team leader responsibilities in the run up to Christmas – meanwhile the winter weather became a storm event, everything became priority and I ended up in tears at my desk wondering out loud what priority they wanted me to do first…!

Yep 2013 sucked… been hoping 2014 is better…am feeling slightly more balanced Continue reading

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Lazy Sunday

Last night I finally freed the sewing machine from where it was temporarily hiding whilst I redecorated the dinning room…AND I woke up early this morning…so of course I am busy sewing away right ?

er…no…sorry am hiding upstairs with a pint of tea whilst Spider is lost in Middle Earth courtesy of his Wii…

Have decided I deserve a day off from being Mum. I have been a single Mum for most of the week as Husband is having fun at Le Mans (he might have his other 2 boys with him but that doesn’t count as “parenting”, the eldest is 24 and the other one is almost 18) and to be honest the week has not been the best for me as amongst other things I had to replace all 4 tyres on the car…

So I’m in bed with my laptop, tea and a couple of podcasts…every 40 minutes I nip downstairs to refill the tea…oh and do some paint stripping on the dining room door (ok so perhaps I haven’t quite got the concept of “Lazy Sunday” mastered !).

I will get up after Desert Island Discs (Hugh Laurie – saw him in concert last week in Oxford)…promise…I may even join Spider in Middle Earth for a bit (even though he thinks I’m useless and keeps coming over and taking the controller off me)…later I may tidy the house…but, so sad, I can’t do that until all the washing draped over every radiator and door is dry 🙂  (it’s raining outside and I don’t have a tumble drier)…

and sewing ?  Well look I did finally hem my PJs (made in February) last night…and I would have finished a bag off only I need to find the right shade of thread…I’m not procrastinating for once I am just mentally blocked…but I’m getting through it 15 minutes at a time

Maybe I should just recruit Spider to take some pictures of what I have done over the last 12 months and not blogged…then at least I would have something to waffle on about whilst I get through the contents of the UFO basket (Guilt is the cause of the block)…but that will mean cleaning the house first as the rain means outside pics are not an option…but getting Spider away from the Wii possibly won’t happen

You know, I think I’ll just stay here in bed after all…

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In the pink

It’s Sunday morning. I am sitting here knitting. Knitting with pink wool. This is a protest. Admittedly I am the only one who realises it is a protest…and there is also no one here to see it, but nevertheless it is still a protest against this house full of testosterone !

Later I have plans to cut out a skirt…also in pink…but to do so I will have to go back on part of the other part of my protest…you see I am knitting at the moment, I am not tidying the house. I have declared Sunday an official day of rest….

Why am I protesting ? Thank you for asking… I am protesting because the boys (apart from Spider) are at Silverstone doing something motorsport related. They set off early…so it was not until about an hour ago that I realised that they had failed to stack the dishwasher and clear up after their barbecue last night. The kitchen is a tip..the kitchen that I tidied up yesterday…

So sod the housework, someone else can do it !!!  (Except there is of course no such thing as the housework fairy, but a girl can dream !).

Also, I’m not really awake, having been woken at 2am by a small boy with the runs…he’s fine now…but I probably need to put the washing machine on later…oh and buy some toilet roll…sorry, too much information I guess…but doing the washing is only to get rid of the smell…it’s not housework

But for now, I knit…later I will clear the cat hair off the landing and vacuum…but only so I can cut a skirt out you understand, not because I want the house tidy…it’s not housework.

I know, I know, if I actually want to sew the skirt up I will have to tidy the dining room up so I can get the machine out…

See, even when I want a day without housework it still creeps up on me

But for now I’m knitting…and it’s pink….I don’t even like pink really

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Creating Chaos out of…chaos…

May here at Chateau Bun is one long round of birthdays, especially as we sometimes celebrate Spiders birthday in may too on the grounds that the weather is better  (if your birthday present was 2 days at Legoland I’m sure you’d rather celebrate it in may than march !)…So I guess we’ve been kinda pre occupied.

Add to that being lost in DIY hell… at Christmas we realised that we had been back in the house after the rebuild for 5 years…so perhaps it was time we finished tiling the bathrooms and the kitchen…but before we finished tiling the kitchen Husband decided we needed 2 more cupboards from IKEA…but then we got the flu… and then after we built the cupboards Husband decided that we needed to reseal the wooden surfaces…

In the meantime I’d arranged for a furniture restorer to take away a family heirloom…a 4 ft x 4ft x 120m chest of drawers to be stripped and restored whilst I painted the dining room… of course the delays to the kitchen tiling meant that it all happened at once so the dining room (where I sew) has been out of commission since before Easter…and  I have been less than popular with the rest of the family since I moved the contents of the dining room into the downstairs bathroom meaning that for a short time we became a 1 toilet family !

Work has also been pretty stressful as pretty much my whole caseload turned litigious just after Christmas…and then the boss went on holiday for 2 weeks and I had to “act up” in his absence….

So to be honest I haven’t been “feeling the love” when it comes to knitting….I’ve lacked inspiration…and as for sewing…well I’ve been feeling a bit blocked due to body issues ( I went back on the Matt Roberts programme which eats into knitting/sewing time) plus I still haven’t finished that 3rd bag…partly because the sewing machine is in the bathroom…partly because  I have a mental block…it’s hard to finish things when you no longer feel the love…

Anyway…new month…new attitude… especially if Husband finishes regrouting the floor in the dining room so that I can put everything back together again

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An accidental participant in Me Made May

Seeing as I only have 4 sewn garments to my name, (one of them being a clothkit skirt and another being on its last legs) I didn’t sign up for Me Made May… but I do tend to wear at least something I’ve made every day… more so since I tried the 12 in 12 challenge as there has hardly been a day in the last 9 months where I haven’t needed a jumper or a cardigan.

It came as a surprise to realise as I was standing on the train platform this morning that I was wearing no less than 5 me made items…ok so by the time I was catching the train home I had discarded 2 of them and my coat (Yay ! It’s spring at last!!!)

So the 2 discards first…a bright pink hat (wurm…not yet blogged or photographed) and a great scrunchable scarf in a shade of teal  (hmmm maybe I should pay more attention to co ordinating my outfits…but then that would involve more co ordination of my wardrobe palette…maybe sometime…but not yet).

Knitted socks…because I don’t have any decent  shoes at the moment and I’m still wearing winter boots  (note to self: Buy some spring appropriate shoes…or shall I wait to see if the nice weather lasts)

A fitted tunic style jumper in lilac…well I guess that goes with the pink hat…and possibly the scarf  (incidentally has anyone checked out Catkin yet ? Isn’t it stunning yet simple…)…I can’t post a picture of it unfortunately as I am a long way behind with photographing things…

and finally a skirt… yes I have made a skirt that I am happy to wear to work…unfortunately I haven’t made any others…

So today I made my debut in Me Made May…and it is also my finale…. hey it was fun whilst it lasted…

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Spring cleaning…and a bit of sulking

Happy Easter and finally Happy Spring…it’s been so long I thought we were in for Endless Winter…ok it’s still not exactly warm but it’s getting better.

I probably should say “hello again” and “how are you all ?”. I hadn’t intended to be away for almost 2 weeks but I sort of got caught up in things and the next thing I knew it was the other side of Easter…

So the last time I was here I was bemoaning the temporary shattering of my skirt dream…well what do you do when you have your dreams shattered ? Er, well sulk for a few days and then try something else, something you know will work. Yep, did that…only that went and bit me on the backside too (it was another skirt)…so I sulked some more …and then did something I knew would work as I’ve already made 2 of them…and it doesn’t involve me having to wear it and look in the mirror.

The problem is the more I have made of these the less happy I have been…in fact I think I got it right first time with this…even if I did make a mess of the binding…ok enough blathering…I am talking about THIS129

So this is the outside…or it might be the inside because THIS is the reversible Bucket Bag from The Bag Bible…only I didn’t have enough of the polka dots so the outside also has a left and a right side128

and then this is the inside or possibly the outside130

The polka dot version was made April 2012 and then in July I made it again as a present for Spider’s teacher….



So then I started making a third version is September as I still wasn’t happy with how I attached the binding…only this one was made with that denim/Camo fabric that I used for the Treasure Pocket Trousers  (aka the trousers of doom)…the material that broke my machine… this third one has not been a happy experience at all and it’s taken a lot lot longer than it should because I’m just not having fun…or I wasn’t…it’s been pretty much finished since December, apart from the binding…

The binding, which also forms the handles is 50mm bias binding…not sold in many shops and where it is the colours are limited, so you have to make your own…and that is just not a fun experience…at least making the larger size isn’t as it’s not as easy to make as the narrower which work quite well with tutorials such as this...

Anyway, after having my butt kicked by the second skirt I decided to try a bit of spring cleaning in all areas of life and bit the bullet and made the bias binding. The bag is for a friend so I will post about it later when it finally gets delivered…which hopefully will be after I have found my camera…which is currently buried by the other thing I’ve been doing…which can wait for another day…

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I’m a winner !!!

I read a lot of blogs but I am more of a lurker than a commenter…(I find it hard enough some days to think of something to say here). As a result I don’t tend to enter giveaways very often as I don’t think I should unless it is a blog I have commented on from time to time or is one I have on my blog roll. Very very rarely I break my rule and on this occasion I am glad I did.

I have been lurking Anna (Paunnet blog) for some time and slowly reading my way through her archives…so I felt I could enter her giveaway without feeling guilty…and besides with such lovely By Hand London patterns to give away there would be lots of entries so my chances were slim…

But no, when the name came out of the hat for the Charlotte skirt it was me !


I am very excited and very very grateful to Anna…

Previously I would have avoided a pencil skirt on the grounds that girls with big hips and backsides should steer themselves towards A lines…but on recent evidence (since January I have managed to make 2 long straight skirts) may be that this shapely skirt might be a better bet !

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Body shape…and how you can’t believe everything you read in a style guide

About 3 years ago I had a stolen morning in Stratford upon Avon away from the housework, Husband and Spider. I  treated myself to having my colours done. One day when I actually start using this information I may post about it here, but by and large the colour wallet has been carried around and not much used.

However some of the things the lovely  Cat said during the session have stuck in my head one of which was that we tend to gravitate naturally to the colours that suit us (she was explaining that having your colours done was away of extending your colour range into things you might not have thought about and thus extending your wardrobe…and I think she may be right as I have never met a red I didn’t like (and that didn’t like me in return), my wardrobe has a lot of red in it and so does the colour wallet I carry around. My wallet also has several greens which I have always avoided and several blues…

I think the same can be said of clothing styles and maybe we should trust ourselves more than advice from fashion gurus…for example  I have a long body and very short legs.  The advice out there says I should end my skirts just above my knee because this will make my legs look longer, whereas skirts that finish on the knee or just below the knee will make me look shorter.

What the magazines don’t usually say is that you also have to take width into account. My widest point is my hip and thigh area and as  I have recently discovered, if I stop my skirts above my knee it actually emphasises how wide I am AND oddly how short my legs are. Looking in my wardrobe I see that pretty much all my skirts are long and I mean long long. We are not talking stopping just below the knee here but mid calf to just above the ankle sort of long.

The strange thing is I can’t remember how this happened. I just know that since age 17 or 18 I have by and large gravitated towards long skirts. I remember a couple of shorter ones but they tended to be very tailored and usually accompanied by a suit jacket.

“Ahhh” says the Fashion Guru “so you are a girl with wide hips. You need an A line skirt to emphasise your waist and skim lightly over your hips”

Ha, remember this from about 3 years ago

september 2009 047Well that’s me in a self drafted loosely fitting A line which stops pretty much on my knees. I’d assumed the issue here was the elasticated waist. Well I guess partly it is but partly I think it may be the length. If I shorten it I think I’m still going to look wide…so maybe I should go long ?

Yesterday I made a muslin for the Colette Ginger. It is a classic A line skirt. I had to grade between sizes as I am considerably less wide at the waist than I am at the hips. It fits at the hips and then flares slowly down stopping I think at the knee…and…well…lets just say I was in too much shock to take photos. You must remember that I have been dreaming about this skirt for over a year now. I have made so many fabulous versions in my head. I just wasn’t ready for real life ! Husband, who has been an admirer of the female form for many years and can be counted on for an honest assessment said “It makes you look wide all the way down, the “A” shape keeps on widening you !”

I may take photos later after I’ve basted the zipper back in but I think I need to take it over to my Mum for a consult, because whereas Husband is an honest opinion, Mum  is a sewist and can help with alteration options such as:

a)  Make it not so fitted at the hip so that it drapes a bit more

b) Make it out of a material with more drape, the muslin is a thick old curtain

c) Make it longer

d) Make it shorter (doubt it)

e) Take out some of the flare so it’s not so wide at the hem

f) choose another pattern !

I think the problem I have here is that I gravitated early to a shape that I looked passable in and clung to it the way a survivor does to the shipwreck. I don’t know what other shapes suit me because I’ve never experimented… whereas other teenage girls I grew up with loved shopping I always found it a trial…remember the communal changing rooms of the 80’s ???

I know I can’t rely on fashion style advice because it’s all too general, talking about “Apples”, “Pears” and “Triangles” whereas really we tend to be a bit of one shape and a bit of the other.  Me I’m an hourglass fading into pear…I’m a standard size on the top but a petite below the waist…

I think possibly I need to go and see Cat again and make use of her wardrobe consultation service…at least that is specific…

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The on going GIVEAWAY !!!!

It’s been busy at work recently. The run up to the end of the financial year always is for us as our client departments suddenly realise they have money leftover in their budgets and can squeeze a planned project in this year rather than waiting until next…but if they are working in partnership they have to have a collaborative agreement in place …”hello Legal, any chance you can draft me an agreement before monday/tuesday/wednesday…”

So it has been a relief to have a day off to wait in for a delivery…and then half way through the morning I got a nice surprise when the postman delivered me a pattern I’d won in someone elses Giveaway. Now I don’t enter may giveaways because I’m more of a lurker than a commentator so I feel very very lucky to have won (will talk about the prize later)…and I think it’s about time I had a giveaway.

It’s not really a giveaway it’s more a “can anyone find a home for this and love it better than I did !”

The item or item will go to the first person who emails me or comments below offering to provide a home. Also there is no deadline…I don’t get enough traffic on here to do it any other way to be honest…

First up the St Denis  Magazine Premier Issue by Veronik Avery


I bought this in 2010 as it was the only place then that had Ysolda Teagues long Vintage Button Gloves which  I think has since been published in Whimsical Knits 3…

Second we have the Burda Magazine January 2013 from which I have made a skirt (yes I’ve actually sewn something !) but can’t honestly see myself making anything else out of it


and finally there is Style 2845 which is a boys pattern for “sporty separates to mix and match.  I don’t know a lot about this to be honest it was probably published in the 1990’s as Husband’s ex wife passed it on when Spider was born.  It has sizing from age 2 to age 7 . There are 20 pieces total, I’m afraid I don’t know if they are all there.  It’s  for a hoodie a jacket and track suit bottoms or shorts. Recommended fabrics are knits, jersey or sweatshirt fleece.

007If you are interested then please provide contact details and let me know which item you want…I can be reached from the comments below or   currantbun AT appetiteforcake dot co dot uk

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FO: Girasole (Jared Flood)

086This is one of the most beautiful things I think I have ever made…and it was fun to knit…even the edging

The pattern is Girasole by Jared Flood, Girasole is I believe french for sunflower.

It was originally intended for my friend the welsh goddess as a 40th birthday present…she is an august baby…I started knitting it in the July and had it finished by the november…it then sat in my WIP basket until the March when I finally got around to blocking it.

Blocking as you probably know involves drying it “under tension” you pin the wet garment out slightly stretched and when it dries it stays in the stretched position which has the joint benefit of:

a) you have a slightly larger garment

b) The stitch pattern looks better as the stitches have been “opened” out

The problem was that aside from my stepsons bed I had nowhere to block it and of course I always remembered it needed doing on a friday night when he arrived and had forgotten about it by the sunday when he left ! So it took rather a long time to reach the blocking stage.

Then…well…you see my friend the Welsh Goddess is an absolute Goddess of a woman, tall, statuesque with va va voom…lovely, but our limbs as a rule are in proportion to our height and yes the Welsh Goddess has quite an “ape index”  (ape index is a climbing term relating to the length of your arms) compared to a short a*se like me AND the va va voom factor means…well in short, my lovely shawl was too small…it makes a good scarflette, but not a good head and shoulders or even shoulders covering shawl…

I tried just before Christmas to reblock it to see if I could get some more stretch out of it, I did but not enough…

It was redirected  as a present for someone else, who seemed delighted with it, but who can really tell with handknitted  presents (or relatives) ?  I’m waiting for inspiration to strike again before August comes round again… or maybe I just reknit Girasole on slightly larger needles… because it is a really lovely pattern…

yarn: Regia Sock yarn(4ply)


The lost…the found…and maybe later in march a giveaway

The small thing  I  lost is my Cria cardigan…I put it to one side on Saturday to photograph so that I could post about it on Monday but the safe place  turned out to be far too safe and I now can’t find it…hoping it hasn’t accidentally gone through the washing machine…if it has then the big thing I’ve lost means that it will not be quickly replaced…

The big lost thing is my knitting mojo. I’ve not knitted a thing since the 28th January, actually that’s not true I did frog and reknit some cuffs but that’s it. There’s hardly anything that needs finishing and I just can’t find the enthusiasm to start anything…

…hoping that these losses are temporary…

The found are not really found, but they make me happy.  I came back from work yesterday to find 3 patterns from Sewaholic – I went on a small shopping spree the other week to cheer myself up after such a horrible February – spurred on by Tasia’s birthday discount. Today, waiting for me was Cake pattern’s Pavlova…oh and the sun was found by last !

The sudden influx of patterns to this house has started to get me a bit jittery as last year I purchased 4 patterns from Colette and as yet haven’t  made a start on any of them, and that’s on top of the Colette sewing handbook and Gerties book…I don’t know if it is a streak of puritanism or a streak of miserliness but I feel guilty about spending money on things if they don’t then get used…or possibly it’s just I fear clutter which is why I don’t really want to build up too big a stash of yarn, fabric or patterns.

ve never bothered doing giveaways on here as there isn’t much blog traffic but I am vaguely thinking of possibly the occasional giveaway of things surplus to requirement, that someone else can find a better home for…

Possibly first to go will be  kids casual pattern  Style 2845 which is for tracksuit tops and bottoms for boys age 2-7. I think it is all there and all the sizes still intact, I’ve not investigated in full, possibly inherited it from Husband’s ex-wife…It’s surplus to requirement as I have a Burda pattern in slightly larger sizes for the same sort of thing…



FO: Artemis Fowl and the Easy Linen Shirt

Spider’s school, along with many others, celebrates World Book Day by letting the children dress up as characters from fiction. Most schools celebrate it on the 5th March but this year Spider’s school had an actual author coming in on the 28th so brought their world book day celebration forward a  few days.

 Last Saturday I had the following conversation

 Me   “so who do you want to dress up as for world book day ?”

Spider “Butler”

Me “er…why ?”

Spider “Because then I can take …(insert long list of assorted guns and records)  and a Victorian cosh to school”

 Butler for those who haven’t come across him is the bodyguard in the Artemis Fowl books by Eoin Colfer. Butler is Eurasian. Spider is not. Butler is tall, very tall. Spider is 1.25 m. Butler is approximately as wide across the shoulder as he is tall. If Spider turns sideways he pretty much disappears…oh and according to Artemis Fowl “The Arctic Incident” Butler has a shaved head…I used the clippers on Spider once when he was 18 months old and swore never again, my boy looks better with hair !

 Apart from the above mentioned difficulties, it is actually pretty easy to dress Spider as Butler…OK so it is unlikely that anyone is going to recognise that Spider and Butler are one and the same for the purposes of world book day and will simply assume that Spider is going to a funeral !

 Butler wears a suit (a designer suit as he’s a very well paid bodyguard). No problem. School trousers (black)?check. White button up school shirt ? check (thank you sainsbury’s ). Black Tie ? Check (thank you Husband). Armani Black button up suit jacket ?…hold that thought…

 At the time of our conversation I was slowly cutting out and sewing up the Easy Linen Shirt from Sewing for Boys…   I was unenthusiastic and had misgivings. Not with the pattern you understand, the problem was Spider. The ELS is, to be frank, a smock and at almost 8, Spider is beginning to have his own ideas about clothing and at 8 I guess you have to start moving away from the cute stuff you can get away putting smaller children in…at least with boys in any event.

 I just couldn’t for the life of me come up with any plan for the ELS that I thought Spider would go for, apart from a light cotton denim, or what I eventually went for which was a plain black cotton with a contrasting collar, jazzed up a bit by a ribbon around the bottom and maybe some iron on patches…

 The more I sewed though the more unsure I became and I gave up having completed pretty much all of it apart from the collar and one side seam.

 So where were we ? Ah yes, a designer suit jacket in black…”Mum !!!!”

 Spider is fortunate to have an A 1 Grandma. She took the Easy Linen Shirt, finished the side seam, unpicked my front centre seam, drafted her own suit collar, recut the neck and attached the new collar, added button holes and some large black buttons…Spider also has a star of a Granddad who donated the buttons off his suit  (I promise to sew them back on Dad)…

 Resulting in…


Oh and Mum even made a soft Victorian cosh…


Pattern: Easy Linen Shirt from sewing for boys

Material:  100% Black Cotton from Royal Fabrics in Leamington Spa

Thread:  Coats Duet in a dark charcoal

New: Working in collaboration !!!

Thanks Mum

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In the mire aka bogged down

I am now at the start of my 5th week of being ill and the house is beginning to suffer.  I have always said that I don’t mind untidiness but I hate dirt, and this house is beginning to look very dirty indeed…after all I have an almost 8 year old boy and 3 very fluffy cats dirt monsters all 4 of them.

The male side of this household isn’t quite as concerned by the fact the house isn’t clean, their minds inhabit higher planes where Lego and motor sport  reign.

I can only manage a little, the occasional toilet clean, wiping a surface in the kitchen, before I need to sit down and rest – I tried vacuuming the floor (brushing it first to collect cat hair) and washing the tiles  downstairs…motivated mainly by a desire to cut out a skirt admittedly… 30 minutes cleaning led to 4 hours in bed and the rest of  that saturday evening on the sofa…

I am feeling swamped by dirt dust, clutter and unfinished things.

The good news however is that I am now able to sew and knit again so in my own small way I am trying to get the house organised.  I am going to tackle the WIP and the UFO’s. Once again I am restricting myself to finishing 2 or 3 things before I can start something new. I say 3 things as some of them really are quite small, as small as sewing on a button in fact !

Yesterday I sorted out Cria’s buttonhole issue (buttons too small for buttonholes…note there are 21 of them !)…pictures of Cria coming soon I promise, after all it’s been finished since April last year…I’ve also reknitted the cuffs on my hot pink Cowl top (not yet blogged), been a bit obsessive over those sleeves as this is the second time I’ve reknit the cuffs.

Next up buttons on a par of small baby shoes…I’m also trying to finish a skirt off and a top I’m making for Spider..only I’m not sure if these count as UFO’s as they’ve both been cut out since the new year…I guess they are WIPs, as my definition of a UFO is something that was started over a year ago…

These baby steps to clearing the clutter makes me feel a little better…and this morning I need some sort of boost as my chest is full of phlegm yet agan…and the new antibiotics the GP gave me to try to sort out the ear infection (which is not improving) leave a permanent strange taste in my mind.

Anyway, sorry for whinging, but I needed to get this off my chest (unlike the phlegm which I can’t shift)…and besides it’s my blog !


Frankly Speaking: Toys

Sometime ago I got a text from a friend with a photo attached. The text said “Do you think you would be able to recreate this for Cookie”. Attached to it was a photograph of a knitted and smiling octopus…

Of course being an everloving Godmother I texted back “by when ?” instead of what deep deep in my heart I was thinking which was “NO !!!!”

Now it’s not the knitting I have a problem with but the making up…You see even a simple toy has at least 3 seams. Something like an Octopus has hundreds  (remember, at least 8 legs plus a body…and then you have to sew a face on to it) and it really really breaks my heart to see a knitted toy in a charity shop being sold for a couple of £s…no one really appreciates the amount of time it takes to do the knitting or the hours it takes to sew the thing up and then hide all the ends…knitted toys really are a labour of love.

Anyway so there I was with a promise to find the pattern for the Octopus or try to reverse engineer it in time for Cookie’s birthday and if possible could it be pink and navy.

Ravelry informed me that the Octopus in question was based on a Jean Greenhowe from her Toy Collection book…this took some tracking  down and it was looking like it would cost me £5 for the pattern plus postage (this is the cost before buying the wool) when  I had a bit of luck and Jacksons in Reading sold me their shop copy.

So a few (quite a few) hours later after some busy knitting with pink and navy wool I had a pile of bits…2 months after I finished knitting I finally forced myself into turning these bits into a  sewn up and stuffed toy


Pattern: octopus from Jean Greenhowe’s toy collection

Yarn: patons diploma gold in cerise and navy mainly

Needles: 3.75mm

New: Nothing…

So I delivered the Octopus to Cookie for her birthday together with a gift card for Claires Accessories and you know what ?  In the 4 months since I’d received the text she’d moved on…she was now into Owls…!

So this is why I don’t make toys for people and I don’t buy birthday presents in advance for children…because their interests are usually very short lived…!

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Lack of knitting

It is now about 15 days since I last did any knitting…on the first day of flu I managed to finish this028

which is now performing an essential function in my daily wardrobe…it hides the cotton wool sticking out of my left ear…

I still have half the ball of yarn left so I am undecided as to keep the hat or to knit something else with the yarn, which may involve unravelling the hat to finish the other thing off…I haven’t sewn my ends in just in case… this hat will be quick enough to make again…and to be honest I’d rather have something that doesn’t remind me of these last few weeks.

In other news the skirt is slowly heading towards the cutting table…this evening before collapsing on the sofa I managed to measure me, measure the traced skirt and make the amendments that appeared necessary…mainly cutting 3 inches out of the length, I’m a short a*se being only 5ft 6 inches…my body is long but my legs are in the petite category (length wise you understand, width wise I’m larger than average !).

Tomorrow I’m on a training day in Birmingham, so who knows, maybe if the course finishes at a reasonable time I might commit “cutting out”…  Don’t watch this space….and please, please, don’t hold your breath !

A sensible person would sort out some yarn, needles and a pattern for the train wouldn’t they ?

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I made a resewlution…

At the beginning of the year Karen at Did you make that ? invited people to make a “sewlution” of what they wanted to achieve in the year. She’s put all the “sewlutions” in a jar and periodically will check up on how people are getting on with their aim for the year.

I made a sewlution. It appears quite a modest one as I want to sew a skirt which fits where it should and skims over where it doesn’t need to fit…I am looking for the holy grail of skirts, the skirt of perfect fit.  Quite an easy goal eh ? Just sew one skirt the whole year…

The small print though shows that I’m aiming for a little bit more. Actually I am aiming to sew 36 skirts. A new pattern every month and once the first fit of the pattern has been achieved, to follow my Mum’s advice which is that if you’ve taken the trouble to make sure your pattern fits you then make the most of your time and sew the pattern at least twice more.

I figure that, starting as I am from an empty wardrobe (OK 5 skirts) if I manage to make another 36 of which 50% are a reasonable fit then that should at least give me a decent selection of bottoms to go with all the T-shirt tops and cater for both work and home wear.

Only, I haven’t exactly got off to a good start.  Most of January was taken up with trying to get the Tirimisu bodice to fit…and then I took an ego boost break and made a pair of sheep pyjamas just to remind myself I could sew….and then…I came down with the flu.

The PJ’s were called into action towards the end of my enforced bed rest  as I started to run out of nightwear…I still have the seams to finish off, need to secure the elastic and to do the hems.


Flu has stolen 14 days of my life. I’m still not well but I’m capable of reading emails…fortunately it snowed here in Warwickshire overnight so I was able to work from home today rather than dealing with travelling to Reading whilst recuperating from flu.

So here we are, half way through February and I am already 3 skirts down… I’ve spent a large part of the last 14 days…well the bits I was conscious for (I have slept A LOT !) dreaming of tracing off a sweatshirt skirt from the Burda January 2013 issue. You’ll note I’ve only been dreaming of tracing the pattern off, it may be some time before I have the energy to make the skirt as well !

With a bit of luck I may manage 1 skirt by the end of February…course if it turns out to be “the skirt” then I can stop there, I’ll have achieved my goal…won’t have made much of an impact on the wardrobe crisis though !

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I have the flu. The problem with the flu is that it means different things to different people. Certainly Husband originally thought I was after a couple of duvet days and avoiding the long commute south. By the Wednesday however when my temperature shot though the roof and my mind was clearly the otherside of La La land he quickly changed his mind…I think in view of the fact that he’s been off with the flu since this Monday and discovered that any attempt to move involves Olympic efforts that he now has a different definition of what the flu means

So I had the flu, starting on the Friday after work, lasting all weekend and supposedly peaking on  Wednesday. I was not capable of anything, couldn’t read, couldn’t knit or sew, didn’t have  the attention span to watch television. On Thursday I still felt rough but thought things were improving by Saturday I was actually thinking that I might be able to make a useful contribution to family life by sorting out the playmobile that I’m hoping to sell and get some money to go towards our longed for Italian holiday… but whilst sitting on the sofa drinking the first tea of the day I had an excruciating pain in my ear and then pretty much it exploded ! My ear started leaking fluid and kept on doing so. On Sunday whilst the family slept (5am) I drove myself to the A&E at Warwick where a nice man explained that the infection of the flu had led to a secondary infection in my eustachian tubes and that they had blocked, fluid  then had nowhere to go and had burst through my ear.  I left with a dose of very strong painkillers and some antibiotics for the secondary infection.

On the Monday I took myself along to my GP who kindly signed me off until the following Monday  explaining that drip from the ear wouldn’t resolve itself until the first infection had gone.  It is now Wednesday and things are just continuing, I still can’t read knit or sew, typing this entry is an effort but at least  I can now concentrate on TV so I am not too bored.  My nose is still full of snot and the first infection doesn’t seem to want to let go.

You may be wondering what about Spider. Where is he all this ? Well the first week was OK because Husband was upright and mobile and able to deliver Spider to his grandparents, ensure he had clean uniform and lunch. But with husband taking to his bed it became apparent that we needed major help. Fortunately my lovely  Mum and Dad who have been pillars of strength through all this have invited him over for a week long Sleepover…to be honest I don’t think he is missing us…

My  time on the sofa (during the day we can’t both use the bed upstairs to be ill in) has been made more comfortable however by some cushions I made before Christmas using this tutorial from Jo over at Today We Made


as you see they go quite well with the Gnome on the Stump cushion that Mrs Lacer made for me.

So there you have it, life at Currantbun towers is not particularly fun at the moment but is at least bearable…and we are just waiting for a recovery.

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FO: The “no more 4ply PLEASE” sweater (September)

Since this jumper has actually been worn and seems to be loved by its owner it seemed appropriate to post it today…and it is colourful
 whereas Cria, the February sweater is a) grey  and b) hard to photograph on grey winter days… So…here is Spider and his sweater…





Pattern:  Can’t remember, think it’s just a Sirdar pattern for a boys jumper

Yarn:James C Marble, Chunky, a present from Mum who started knitting a jumper with it but stopped when her hands started hurting

Unfortunately after the day out in the snow (Friday), Spider came down with a cold and spent the next 2 days feeling sorry for himself on the sofa and sharing all his germs with me…so I’ve been feeling sorry for myself too.

Tiramisu is on hold (on the naughty step)…I just can’t get the front bodice right oh and I’ve run out of the blue thread I was using…and I’m now too scared to go to Fabricland in case I buy more material…it was payday on Friday and I have already sewn the sheep fabric up into a pair of PJ’s…

On the sewing table is a black shirt for Spider (from the Sewing for Boys book) but I may have run out of black thread too…the safest course of action this week may be to knit something but I seem to have lost the urge 😦

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FO: Here’s one I made earlier

It’s not jersey, it’s me.   See I CAN sew jersey

Admittedly I have no idea if the sizing is right on this because I have no intention of ever finishing it off and putting a real baby in it but it did at least vaguely resemble the picture in Sewing for Boys of the “R is for Romper” and the seams all matched up and looked reasonably neat so it’s not the pattern that’s gone wrong for me…

Suspect it is user error on Tiramisu…suspect I should have cut out the 30 inch rather than the 35…next time I shall measure my back and compare it with the pattern piece (which I should have done from the start, but it’s not easy measuring your own back !)

Anyway, here’s something else I got right…and still haven’t put the snaps on (because Spider says he thinks the pockets at the side are silly and doesn’t seem to like the shirt)



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Wish me luck…

So you remember I said last week that I cut Tiramisu out when I was a little bit distracted…and you remember I then checked I’d cut it out correctly but that I was suffering a bit at the time from lack of sleep ?

Well, guess what ? Yep I came unstuck whilst sewing it up…but then that’s why you do muslins.

I spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday doing a few minutes here, a few minutes there and had managed to chalk up successful shoulder seams, binding that looked pretty good, centre front and back seams in the skirt and was then having a few problems with the gathers and attaching the midriff. I then left it overnight and tackled the gathers and the midriff on Tuesday I think it was. Pushed through that, ticked it off, then to baste the side seams and try it on…over the shoulders and head, pull it down and…OH !!!

I was swimming in it. That bodice was HUGE…I sat looking at it for several days and have just taken the seam ripper too it. Only to the midriff bit though, haven’t touched my shoulder seams as they are far too good (well I think so).

Anyway, to take things forward  I have altered my traced pattern to follow a different cup size…I may have gone down a bit too far, but what the hell there is a lot of stretch in the jersey. I placed it over my sewn bodice and cut it down to size.

I’m now sitting here watching the snow, listening to some Gershwin, drinking coffee and enjoying the wood burning stove. What’s that you say, I’m procrastinating ? No, just thinking my way through the next steps…after all no point rushing this…I won’t be finishing it this weekend as I’m about to run out of thread and I doubt I’m leaving the house this weekend as only the road in and out of this village gets gritted…

In the meantime I think a nice fleecy pair of sheep covered PJ’s is calling me !

“Nice work if you can get it…and you can get it if you try…”

Edited:  Just tried it on after sewing the new size…it is still far too big… 😦  am going to seek assistance later this evening from a man and a shed load of pins…


I blame the sheep

You remember I said that I was going to sew and knit from what was already in the house ?

Well, less than 10 days into the new year and I blew it.

I went to Fabricland in Reading to buy some snaps and some thread…and heard the sheep bleating to me, “take me home, take me home”…

I promise on the life of my 3 cats, that I will not buy any more until I have managed to turn the sheep into a pair of warm and fleecy PJ bottoms…which is very probably going to happen in the next 10 days because

a) it’s cold

b) I own a pattern for PJ’s

c) I’ve made them before

and the unofficial d)  Tiramisu and I have” issues”.

It’s ok, we are working through them, I don’t think there will be a permanent separation it’s just, it’s probably fair to say that the 3 way triangle that is myself, Gary (the sewing machine) and Tiramisu are just not cohabiting happily…

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There should only be ONE pattern…all this choice is just not fair !!!

SO here I am happily settling in this year to sewing clothes for me, I can do this, there is nothing to fear, I know I can sew but…

There is too much damn choice !!!  I am resolute that I will sew Tiramisu…and then I will make 2 more. I have my road map. I know where I am going and then… ooh, look at that interesting  side road, I wonder where it goes…yes, I start wondering off down other possibilities and there are so so sew many possibilities littering my path at the moment.

It wasn’t enough that I have the Colette sewing book from last year and was lucky enough to get Gertie’s book for Christmas, not to mention a small collection of Colette patterns plus my charity shop finds (only 5 thank god)…but I’m also slowly working my way through Sewing for Boys and Vintage Style for Kids as my self imposed sewing school…then…I discover that the world has invented (quite some time ago admittedly) magazines with patterns in them….this is so not fair !

Fortunately there was only 1 pattern in it that I might make, but already I’m trying to leap in and make it before I’ve even finished my Tiramisu…I think possibly I need to get a firm grip on myself and put all these temptations out of my head before things get out of hand, there is a strong risk of me doing nothing because I’m trying to do everything…

Well at least there’s knitting, knitting is organised, knitting is slow and steady I know that I don’t have to do everything at once right ? Nope, I appear to have Startitis and have ended up casting on about 5 new things…but that’s not because I want to knit them all right away but more to do with the fact that nothing is catching my interest….

But to be a girl with so many WIPs ? Well I know that this way madness lies…give it a month and I will be complaining about being swamped by things to do…

I am my own worst enemy…I also have a cold and at present am doing nothing…meantime the year is passing me by !

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FO: I am sew in love with Henry (S4B)

Despite the fact that Henry has 17 pieces and comes under the technical ability category of “seriously bloody hard” and involved a lot of new techniques and far far too much sewing of curves and stretching bits out and holding one piece away from the in order to avoid accidently sewing it into the seam currently being sewn…I LOVE HENRY…

He is far from perfect, looking at him critically I can see all the mistakes I’ve made and all the accidental gathers where bits weren’t stretched out enough, but he represents a definite milestone for me – if I made him again and slowed things down a bit, because I was admittedly rushing things at the end because I’d had enough, then I think you might be hard pressed to recognise this as a  beginners article.

That said, I have no intention of making him again and I’m not going to correct his faults, because Spider is coming up on 8 years old and really is not going to have much wear out of him – there are also lots of other shirts in the books I’m working through (and I might remember to lengthen these.

Do you want to see him ?  Well ok…this is MY Henry…


I will try and provide an “action shot” once I’ve put the snaps on…but it is often hard to get Spider to stand still long enough to be photographed.

He would I think look stunning if made with black cotton and flames instead of the dots, but to be honest I’m more interested in sewing for me this year than for other people and I’m just doing the children’s clothes as “learning curve stuff”

Anyway, here are the details

Pattern:  The Henry Shirt from Sewing for Boys

Material:  Black 150cm width cotton from Royal Fabrics in Leamington Spa, 115cm width multi coloured dots from the same place

Thread: Black gutterman

New: Where do I start ? Well I’ve done yokes before but this was my first yoke/sleeve combi. First time I’ve made something so broken down into segments, it will be my first time putting snaps on a garment, not yet done this as need to find my eyelet tool, there is also a reversed pleat and although I did one of these in my Easy as Pie bags from the end of 2011 I’ve never done one on a shirt before or attached to a yoke, definitely my first collar, possibly my first time topstitching…both the topstitching and edgestitching in this really make a difference to the finishing of the garment.

I am very happy with Henry and consider him a good start to the New Year and has put me in a good place psychologically for finally tackling some clothes for me.

But, before I launch full pelt into clothes for full-sized people I plan another pattern from the Sewing for Boys book as an introduction to sewing knit/jersey fabrics…I have no intention of this one ever being worn by anyone (it’s the first size of the R is for Romper pattern).

Thanks to Stacey and Leila for their individual sew a longs, I found the photographs a big help, thank you


Frankly Speaking…I hate tissue patterns

I love the start of a new project, the anticipation, the wide range of new possibilities. At the start of a new project you feel like a fairy princess, nothing is impossible, everything you touch turns to gold, it will look fabulous, you will look fabulous, you will make lots of versions of it, as many as there are different bits of material in the world…nothing has gone wrong yet, you are invincible.

 I never quite fell the same way with knitting as I know that I can rip it back and start again…as a result I am never quite as disappointed at the end of a knitting project about the things I didn’t get right, as I am about a sewing project.

 Anyway, the other night (7th January) there I was noodling about on the internet when I suddenly realised that Day 1 of the Tiramisu sew a long had been posted. Of course it was already the 8th in Australia..turns out the post went live on the stroke of midnight (which I think may be about 2pm for us)

 I read through the post and I took note of Steph C’s helpful suggestions about gathering your tools together in a box…and I thought about getting off my bottom, but being lazy I declined…pretty much because I have lost my seam ripper, although why this should stop me putting the rest of the things in a box I have no idea!

 She concludes the post by dealing with tracing the pattern…tracing the pattern? Hmmm, wait a moment, it’s 9.30pm, Spider is in bed, Husband is in the kitchen watching something about racing and salt plains in the US…oooh, and look there is a big empty living room floor…and it’s clean. I could cheat here and start the sew a long a day early.

 So I grabbed the pattern and a pencil, found the tracing paper and finally cracked that baby open….and then…

 Well let’s just say the fates conspired against me, first it was Spider awake and with a tummy ache, whilst in the bathroom looking for something to alleviate his pain I spotted a cat…with a big gash in his back (cat fight…he is now under observation to see if it requires a vet)…after dealing with these things I went back to the living room to find another cat, asleep on the pattern. Oy, that’s my pattern you rotter, I paid for that (there was another cat last night who left wet paw prints over the tissue!).

 So that was D day -1 a bit of a wash out.

 Official Day 1 aka cheats Day 2 was cutting…sensibly I resorted to just checking the pattern to see if I’d correctly traced it (and retracing a binding I’d manage to loose already in 24 hours – should have put it in a box I guess)  and held back on the scissors, because quite frankly I was on planet Janet (Spider woke several times during the night and I’m never good when I’ve had a disturbed night)…so despite trying to cheat I am now back on official UK time for the sew a long.

 No doubt some readers would query how, when I received the pattern just before Christmas,  I have managed to resist cracking the pattern open before, when out in blog land there are people who have already made at least 4 !

 Well, the answer is this…I hate tissue paper patterns…or more correctly I fear them.

 You see tissue patterns are so light and delicate, I thing of beauty perhaps? They make me feel everso clumsy, a klutz, an awkward galumphing oaf in fact. They make me feel inadequate and useless and that I am about to mess things up forever

 They are so flimsy and fine that I feel like I will break them…also I find the big patterns unwieldy…it is not easy to find somewhere to lay them flat so that I can perhaps break them down into more manageable bits (and don’t get me started on folding to put back in envelope)

 Never was there a girl more suited to digital download…I don’t mind all the sticking and piecing together I can deal with that because they are printed on thicker less delicate paper.

 Besides, you don’t get issues about how to store neatly with digital patterns…just with losing the lot when your PC collapses and you’ve forgotten to backup to the external drive…!

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Wardrobe Audit…in the red

I haven’t taken the Seamless Pledge. I haven’t needed to because I have been living it for the last 4 years. I don’t think it was ever a conscious decision its just that whilst we were dragging ourselves out of debt (from the rebuild, the redundancy, the neighbour dispute and having to replace cars) I could never justify spending money on myself…apart from the occasional pair of shoes, tights or pants…oh and 5 bras when I was remeasured.

Credit side

That is not to say that there haven’t been some additions to the wardrobe…mainly these have been things picked up in charity shops, cast off from friends and the occasional gift of t-shirt style tops from my Mum when she has become exasperated over her daughter going to work looking like a bag lady…oh and self knitted jumpers.

Debit side

Periodically over the last 4 years I’ve  had rushes of blood to the head where I’ve purged the wardrobe of things that don’t fit or I’ve decided don’t suit me either in style or colour…but these purges tend to be a lot bigger and more dramatic than the slow incremental gains and have usually led to both Husband and my Mum screaming at me “for god sake buy some clothes”.

(I hate buying clothes…as a teenage girl from the late 80’s I was permanently scarred by the fashion back then for communal changing rooms – urgh !)


So  when today I decided to do a wardrobe audit (prompted by this post…and my Mum’s recent photograph on Facebook showing her empty wardrobe after removing everything that no longer fitted her following a successful year of weight lost) it should have come as no surprise to discover that I pretty much, have no clothes…and what I do have is mainly very very tired, has seen better days, and frankly I’m bored with.

I am well stocked for jumpers and cardigans after the 12 in 12 challenge. I own 4 pairs of trousers, 2 of which are black, 9 skirts, 3 suit jackets (without the rest of the suit), 5 dresses (4 of which are definitely party wear), and a variety of tops, mainly of the t-shirt style variety (all well washed)…about 52 items all told, not including underwear, accessories or shoes (which are also pretty minimal)…

So this leaves me in a bit of a quandary.

This year for us is all about “not buying”. We are planning on having our long planned Naples or Rome trip this year, but only if we can save up enough money from getting rid of the stuff we don’t need and not wasting money on things that are not essential (we also need to find the money to replace the car…again!). We are also getting rid of clutter, this house was designed to fit this family but for some reason it’s just not working, we are constantly shifting piles of junk from one part of the house to another…

But… I am about to hit a very serious clothing crisis as what is left in the wardrobe is about to fall apart…and work wise I possibly might not look as professional as a lawyer should…

What’s a girl to do ?

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1001 excuses to not do

I can’t sew tonight…the Christmas tree is on the box I keep my material on…and it’s too heavy to move

I can’t sew tonight…I need to trace the pattern off and there’s not a clear space in the house…

I can’t sew tonight…the sewing machine is still in the bathroom…where we had to move it as we had so many people round for Christmas dinner we had to move it out of the dinning room…

I can’t sew tonight…there’s no where to cut out unless I clean the kitchen floor first…

I can’t sew tonight…as I have to take fresh measurements first…and psychologically I won’t be up to facing the tape measure until the end of the month…

I can’t sew tonight…my fabric needs to be pre-washed first…

I can’t sew tonight…it’s my turn to cook dinner…

Yes I know, all just procrastination…not one of these is a genuine obstacle…and if I tackled at least one of them a night by the end of the week I’d be sewing…good thing I’m starting the Tirimisu Sew a long on monday then…

(ps. I pre-washed some fabric last night I’d taken out before the tree went up, and I’ve got another small piece of jersey washing over night, I traced a pattern off last night for a baby sleep suit as a tester for knitting jersey/knits…I also cooked dinner whilst Husband took the tree down and moved the sewing machine back into the dinning room… we have friends round at the weekend so the floor will be clean by then…so really there’s only 1 thing stopping me…OK there’s 2 as I need to buy ballpoint sewing machine needles).

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One of my worst habits is putting things off…often this is due to fear, fear of screwing something up, fear of making a mess of things and of ruining the materials…I am very good at finding reasons not to do things, telling myself “oh I can’t do that until I’ve done this”.

Sometimes though you just have to seize your fear and go for it…like the time I kept putting off decorating a 3 bedroomed house because I was scared of messing up wallpapering…I finally had to accept that no one was going to appear magically and do it for me (although my parents did wallpaper a room for me as a surprise for me when I was on holiday for which I was very very grateful) so I bought some plain lining paper and took the plunge.

I have this with sewing, except I am not scared of sewing, I enjoy sewing. What I am scared of is spending time on making something only for it to look terrible when I put it on…you see, since Spider was born I have been suffering from a “jelly belly”, my tummy muscle are completely shot and a liking for Gin (with full fat tonic) and red wine is not improving things much…I’m also scared of other people making things for me, my Mum has been waiting for me to trace off  pattern for her so that she can make me a skirt…she’s had the material waiting and ready for 10 months now…

Anyway, I can’t keep avoiding the issue, I have to jump into the abyss (because I have virtually no clothes, and the few that are in my wardrobe have been worn to death) …there must be a skirt out there that will look good, that doesn’t draw attention to the mummy tummy…so what I would like to achieve at some point over the year is  the Perfect Skirt…


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New Year’s revolution

Spider asked me earlier “what’s your revolution ?” “No more housework, ever !” I replied. “No” said my son “it has to be something that makes you better”

Well, no more housework would certainly make me feel better but I guess I should choose something a bit more virtuous.

OK then, as of lunchtime tomorrow the whole family is on a diet, as in eating healthily and better rather than bread and water and no fun (see Appetite for cake for details later), there will be more outdoors…there will be gardening…there may be home grown vegetables.

Beyond that I don’t want to go. As I mentioned the other day the 12 in 12 challenge stopped being fun about half way through…I don’t like such strict rules.

I will try to knit from what’s upstairs under the bed as I’m trying not to spend money this year. Likewise sewing will mainly happen from the material stashed in the big Chinese box, which currently has the Christmas tree on top of it…

I am going to sew clothes this year…mainly for me…it may involve doing the same pattern several times (Do one thing well rather than learning lots of new things)…I will keep on with Sewing for Boys and Vintage Style for Kids but try to slow it down…I’ve just finished sewing a fantastic shirt pattern but got bored towards the end (there were 17 pieces, can you believe that 17 separate bits to sew together !) and rushed it which means that the collar and button bands are rubbish but the rest is  “pretty awesome..for me”

I have lots to blog about in the new year, once I get some pictures taken as despite this blog being quiet for most of the year I have actually been quiet because I’ve been busy making things…there is also a blog makeover going on here (slowly) and over at “Appetite for Cake”

AND…I need to work on the “Mum” side of things…the other day Spider cast doubt on whether we could have a good time together as “you are a bit too fabricky”… and then 2 days later he told me I had to make a hat for his teacher to stop her being cold…I possibly will never get the “Mum” thing right…but then hopefully I have time to work on it…

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Unravelling: A touch of figure awareness and a bit of a review

I have to report that I have failed in my 12 in 12 challenge, and I’m not sad about it. In total I managed 11.5 jumpers/cardigans of which 10.5 were for me. But at the end of the year there are only 9 finished objects or at least 9 finished objects still standing.

Over the last year I have managed to knit things from stash – I can give that a big tick as I’ve had very few yarn purchases during the year and the 2 main ones were absolute bargains from the Ally Pally Show.

I have also knitted things in colours that suit my colouring…but that was down to more careful yarn buying since may 2010.

My third criteria was to try and choose things that suit my figure, so close fitting/tailored rather than big baggy jumpers, 4ply rather than chunky (chunky yarn REALLY draws attention to the larger parts of ones figure !) and to knit a size that fits, altering the pattern to improve the fit.

I’ve also been altering them after wearing to make them fit better…and taking time over choosing buttons.

I will post individually about each top but the lighting hasn’t been good here for photographs for several days now – great weather for ducks tho’ !

  • January …..Matilda Jane – graded between sizes to deal with my small waist, big hips and bust. Have since ripped back the buttonhole band and it’s waiting reknitting to improve the fit of the buttons.
  • February… Cria – this is an awesome cardigan. Main alteration was added length plus a bigger size knit on the bottom half
  • March…The Somewhat Cowl –   hot pink and figure hugging. A real hit. Lengthen the sleeves decreased more at the waist, lengthened it and knit a larger size on the lower half. Lengthened the sleeves. Have ripped back the ribbing on the sleeves once already and am planning on doing again as it still doesn’t feel right
  • April… Ramona – more decreases at the waist and then more increases for lower half. Ripped the sleeves back after completion and reknit smaller as they were too long and too wide
  • May…The red flirt – knit pretty much as written and no alterations afterwards. Has received a lot of wear and a lot of compliments. Hated it whilst I was knitting it and thought it would look terrible, but haven’t had a moments doubt about it since I first put it on
  •  June…Kimberley. This one was knit to the end and was pretty much sewn up when I decided that it would probably never ever get worn  as it was just not my style…far too girlie…I frogged it at the start of December
  • July…Laika… This one is still waiting buttons. Can’t remember whether I altered it. Probably should alter it now as the cast off is too tight. Not been worn yet as only recently been dyed purple (was originally cream) and is still waiting buttons. Cuffs have been reknit as wasn’t happy with the length
  • August… Thermal. Wasn’t sure about this one as it’s beige. But since finding the right buttons I have grown to love it
  • September…A chunky jumper for Spider. He wears it from time to time, which I guess is an improvement on most things we make for him.
  • October…Rosebud…my first yarn purchase I couldn’t face anymore 4ply and I needed a dose of colour so I splashed out on a burgundy wool mix from John Lewis. Not yet worn I have to confess.
  • November…Snow White…this is where things started to go wrong.  I managed to knit it in 15 days flat but decided that although it was written to gauge and to size 2 x 2 rib stretched tight across my test just did nothing for my figure…almost as soon as it was finished it was frogged. Think I may have made a mistake with my sizing.
  • December… Skelf… This is the half jumper which is about to be frogged as having chosen a size too small last month  I chose a size to large this month, several sizes too large in fact.

Apart from 5 of the 12 patterns being by Ysolda Teague there doesn’t seem to be any sort of theme running through these tops which I put down to the fact I was restricted to finding patterns that I liked that suited the yarn I had in.

To be honest, although I have at least 5 tops here that I love, I can’t say that I have enjoyed this year. I don’t like knitting to deadlines and I like to knit the large things in between the small things… I probably could have managed all 12 tops if I hadn’t been led astray on at least 2 occasions by hats !

So what’s the plan for next year ?  Not sure at the moment. Knit Skelf in the correct size I guess and then take stock of what I’ve got in stash.  I suspect knitting is going to take a back seat to a few other things such as finally finishing the house off and sorting the garden out…oh and finally tackling some me sized sewing.

(will put the links to the patterns in when I finally post about them)

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Unravelling: A touch of moth

From time to time I have read blog postings by knitters detailing problems with moths and steps taken to protect their knitted creations from the ravages of these greedy little insects and I’ve laughed and thought “that’s a bit over the top surely”.

This morning however as I crossed the dining room I noticed a recently (March) completed jumper hanging to dry. This is a particularly nice hot pink creation which when I wear it makes me feel better about myself…horror, I noticed a hole and on closer inspection can only conclude that it must be moths

And then as I stood there watching my gorgeous jumper start to unravel I started to think about all the things I still have to do in the  days between now and Christmas….and  I felt myself slowly unravelling too…

This is what happens when you have had a week of stress plus a late night at the cinema watching the Hobbit, small things get blown out of proportion. I know perfectly well that all I need to do is spend 10 minutes with a needle and do a bit of grafting, that’s the rational part of me, but unfortunately I don’t think the rational part of me is in control.

Have booked a days leave. To sleep and to write a plan and some lists and tick things off down to a manageable level… and at some point I will think carefully about what precautions to take against moths.

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CPR aka clearing the decks

As the new year approaches I feel a need for order. I need organisation, clear floors, tidy cupboards…I need to finish things that are started. I need to draw a line under the year…

…oh and I need my dining room table back as we have people coming for christmas dinner…

Partly inspired by the CPR  I have been going through the WIPs pile.

Last weekend I had a sort out…I learned to let go and accept that some things, even when finished would never be worn: I frogged 2 sweaters.

I also managed to sew a grosgrain ribbon on a button band and sew on 18 buttons, that would have been a finished cardigan to write about this week, but I’d lost 2 buttons and by the time I’d sewn them on this weekend I had lost the light…

Other hilights of this weekend include frogging back and reknitting a cuff, dying a cardigan…now waiting for 2 of the right buttons to be found and sewn on (yes, another cardigan with 20 sodding buttons)…I also seamed another jumper and bunged it in the wash.

Plus sewing together 3 bookmarks (knitted bookmarks)

No sewing this weekend as I haven’t moved the sewing machine out of the bathroom yet back to the dining room…and a sudden decision to decorate the lobby means the dining room is now full of coats…but to be honest the only outstanding sewing WIP is the corset (from august 2011 so now an official UFO).

All the other sewing is waiting to be cut out before they can be started…so not even WIPs yet…

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Appetite for Cake

You know that jittery nervous feeling that you get in your stomach when something is going wrong and it’s your fault/responsibility to sort it out ? Well at 8.30 this morning it hit me big time. We were about to leave for saturday morning swimming lessons when I noticed that my tax disc was out of date…how could this be ? I paid on line 3 weeks ago and the disc hadn’t come through the post and I hadn’t noticed.

Well there’s little  can do about it at 8.30am on a saturday morning. So I stuck the car on the garden (off the road) and put Spider in the other car and headed off to the swimming pool.

If this was fiction then I’d come home to find the postman had been and that my disc had turned up. But this isn’t fiction and the disc wasn’t there but the postman did manage to take away my butterflies as he’d delivered this:


The lady on the front is called “Penelope” and I think it’s only right that the first dress  I make an attempt at making is this fabulous dress from Cake Patterns…if you’re reading this Mum…it’s designed for jersey and knit fabrics…eek!

The reason I want to make this dress, despite the fear factor induced by the idea of sewing a knit fabric (knit fabric/jersey is the only fabric that has ever made my Mum throw in the towel over a project) is because Steph, the lovely lady at 3 hours past who is responsible for designing this pattern held a “Name the Lady” contest and invited people to name the mysterious lady on the front of the Tiramisu pattern…and although I didn’t suggest the name I did suggest the back story.

The Penelope behind this blog however was named after a feisty red head in a book called “Moon in Scorpio” (“traitor’s moon” in the US apparently) by Robert Neil.

Unfortunately however I have no knit fabric in the house and a basket of things to finish off before the new year so this will have to wait…besides I need to either clean the kitchen floor or clear the dining room table before I can trace the pattern off.

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S4B: Pauli’s Sweater

This is not very good, in fact neither of them are but Spider won’t let me take them back to rectify my mistakes…he likes them as they are. Now this isn’t down to me being an amazing seamstress or anything like that (shame !) but simply because…they’re fleecy. Yes my son is a fleece monster. It’s my fault. When he was born I had a red fleece dressing gown and somehow he has become addicted…especially to the red stuff.

Anyway, back to the garment. Pauli’s sweater is a v neck pullover with a bound collar and as drafted has a gathered waist with a corded belt. Recommended fabrics include sweatshirt, jersey, knits and fleece…easy choice for the Mum of a fleece monster, besides fleeces hides errors quite well.

I made it twice. The second one was made with specially chosen camouflage fleece (£8per m from Royal Fabrics) but before I had cut it out I received an emergency request for a “Dead Soul” costume for a greek play at school…it just needed to be a black tunic. So as I had already traced off the pattern I splashed out another £3.50 for a metre of black fleece from Fabricland.002

Pattern: Pauli’s sweater from Sewing for boys

Material: Fleece, less than a metre (150cm wide)

New: Binding a v-neck…I think I need more practice on this one as I didn’t manage to get it right on either of them

Mods:  I didn’t bother with creating the ties at the bottom, this lengthened it a bit but as Spider is pushing 8 rather than 7 (the largest size) I probably should have added more length. He didn’t need a gathered in waist although in a younger child I can see it would have its uses.

Pattern seems well thought out. Instructions clear. No errors in the pattern. All mistakes were of my own making !

I liked this but due to the sizing I won’t be making more…also he wants a hoodie and I already have 2 small boy hoodie patterns in my collection which I have been promising to make for 2.5 years

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FO: Matilda Jane (January)

A rare picture of me


When it comes to Ysolda Teague’s patterns I am,  a bit of a fan girl. All her knitwear looks stunning, different and is fun to knit. I love the architectural nature of the construction. HOWEVER, and this is a big however (hence the capitals) I have a sneaking suspicion, no a large suspicion that my body doesn’t love her patterns.

What looks good on Ysolda, does not look good on me as I go in and out a lot more, I look like a dork in rounded necks (which crop up quite often in her patterns, and my cleavage needs v necks)…and, and I can’t believe I am typing this but I may finally have reached the age where I have to confess that somethings are too young for me.

Take Matilda Jane. It has a lot of whimsical features such as the ribbon tie at the back, the leaf like lace pattern for the netband and the picot edging to the hem and sleeve…it is a lovely cardigan, but definitely a bit girly, a bit fairytale, a bit OTT. Well I love the OTT, theatrical nature of it, the fairytale…but I might not be able to pull it off any more…or this could all be in my mind and is all down to being sensible for the last 8 years and dressing in practical clothes that you can wipe down easily when covered with baby sick  (OK so that was mainly in the first 2 years, followed by 3 years of dealing with sticky fingers, the last 2.5 years haven’t been too bad)

Now with sewing if you are not sure over fit or style you can make a muslin, a quick and dirty mock up of what you are making. With knitting you don’t get that option because you put as much effort into the practice version as you do the finished object…well at least I can avoid making an expensive mistake even if I end up making a mistake.

Yarn:  Patons Smoothie DK in black and teal (100% acrylic)

Needles: Eventually settled on 3.75mm but it should have been 3.5mm

New:  Can’t remember…possibly the picot edging.

I started this in January but due to a lot of messing around to get gauge  it didn’t get finished until April as I put it down in frustration on the 31st January.  I’ve altered this from the pattern a lot as I couldn’t get gauge at 3.75mm, knitted half of it on 3.25mm before deciding it was too small and ripping it all back

Mods: Knitted a smaller size on 3.75mm and relying on the fact acrylic stretches to deal with any residual sizing issues. Decreased more at the waist than the patterns said. Knitted a bigger size for the hips and because I had to lengthen it to deal with a long back this gave me the length to put enough increases in to get the right number of stitches for bigger size

Like:  I actually like the picot edging

ick 011


I like the lace leaf at the neck and the ribbon ties at the back. I love my choice of buttons and the contrast of the 2 colours

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Dislikes: The fact that I managed to knit the button hole band longer than the button band and they don’t match up…and it’s not easy to reknit the button band…but mostly I dislike the fact that the ribbon at the back act likes a large arrow pointing out my more than ample posterior !002

Reserving judgement until  have reknitted the button band…and possibly lost a stone in weight…it felt strange wearing it…I felt oddly feminie for a change…and  think I like it !