For the love of Knitting!

This has probably been the first October half term holiday that I haven’t made a Christmas cake ( I will do this in a week or so) or done a spot of sewing since my kids were small. It seems that Covid saps all of your motivation and is exhausting!

I have done a little bit of knitting. I heard recently that knitting has the same therapeutic properties as Yoga and I can believe it. Knitting has always played a part in my life, I don’t remember my grandmother teaching me, but I know when I joined school knitting club when I was six I could do all of the basics including the casting on and off.

It really became my thing when I was in year 9 and I got glandular fever. I was really sick and needed to rest a lot. Woman’s weekly had some Jean Greenhow Christmas Ornament patterns and I remember going and asking my mum to remind me how to to do the increases and decreases. Then I was off. That Christmas our tree was full of little knitted decorations. My grandmother came to stay and just before bought me the yarn and pattern for a beautiful sweater and showed me how to cable. Yes that is the pattern above ( I hoard everything) I taught myself the bobbles, unfortunately they weren’t a success and by the time I saw my grandmother again to help me finish it I had grown and it only fit for a couple of weeks.

Since then when ever life is harder, whether it is grief ,illness or just life, knitting is my go to. 2020 has rekindled the passion. There is something so calming about yarn running through your fingers, the rhythmic under round over and off.

The shifty is my go to at the moment. It isn’t as stunning as the beautiful yarn used in the sample or as inventive as some of the gorgeous versions that I have seen on Ravelry. It has definitely taken longer than it should and I don’t think I am going to have enough yarn to complete the sleeves, but that is ok, sometimes it is just about the process rather than the garment. I love the fabric it feels sturdy and warm – I wonder how much it will change when it is blocked. Maybe next week or the week after we will see.

A little Sunday morning knitting

Am I allowed to say I have enjoyed 2020 so far? One of the best things about it, have been the online friendships that I have made.

Every Sunday morning / evening is my Yorkshire/ Melbourne stitch and Bitch with J . We started out making the Joanie boatneck by poisongrrls which was great fun.

During September we worked on wips that we both had ( and still have) on the needles whilst we waited for her yarn to arrive from the uk.

Earlier this week, it arrived and this morning we cast on! Wooo hooo!

We only managed the neckline and the short rows this week, but I am really excited for next week and starting the yoke. Although I really like Drops yarn, I haven’t ever used the extra fine merino before. Let me tell you not only does it come in the most gorgeous colours, but it gives a really nice stitch definition and I don’t think you could get better for the price.

We are making the Soldotna Crop by Catlin Hunter, which is probably one of the most loved sweaters on Instagram. Ok a short sleeved sweater in Yorkshire probably isn’t the most practical but it is so cute I am not going to worry about the practicalities until later.

Time for a change

I realised earlier that I have been blogging for 14 years. 14 years admittedly with breaks, but a lot has changed in that time . When I started, I had a young family now I am a mother of adults. Neither Blogger or my original name really suited me anymore so I have taken the plunge ; moved platforms and changed my blog name.

Of course 2020 has been a strange year for everyone, I am currently recovering from Covid-19, something that I was terrified of has (for me) not been that bad. 2020 has shown me what the important things really are family, pets and of course any craft that I can lay my hands on.

So here it is, different but essentially the same, a blog about my handmade life.

Her Capsule Wardrobe 

A few weeks ago, in passing, my mum told me she needed to go shopping for clothes as she had nothing to wear for her trip to Ireland next week. So I decided I would make her some pieces that would go together. I looked for inspiration on Instagram for sewing over 60 but there are very few posts. The ladies who had tagged themselves seemed to like the merchant and Mills Patterns. I have to admit I have not particularly been drawn to them. Like many people I didn’t really like how they had marketed their patterns. However the versions that were online looked comfortable and classic which was a look that I thought my mum would like. So I took the plunge and bought their workbook. I bought 8 metres of fabric and started sewing! Originally I had planned on making all of it from the merchant and Mills Workbook however I decided that fitted waistband might be problematic on trousers that I wasn’t actually fitting.

The fabrics are a striped polycotton, a very soft denim and a beautiful blue linen. All from my local sewing shop, Samuel Taylors.

The trouser pattern I eventually chose, is actually the Tilly and the Buttons PJ bottoms Margo, but I added pockets and a mock fly. They needed about 4 inches off the bottom but I think they have turned out pretty well and may make more of these in the future as they a really quick make.

The linen blouse is the only unique fabric of the collection. This is Heron from the Workbook. My friend Mel from Ditsy Tulip had warned me about the pivot points on the collar so I didn’t have any problems with them. However the ties!!! What a terrible way of tackling them! It took several hours to turn them the right way out and my fingers hurt for about two days afterwards. It is however the best top out of the ones that I made. I think it looks pretty and the colour is perfect on my mum.

The next top is Curlew also from the Workbook. I would have loved to have made a long sleeved version, however this tiny tank top is bias cut so eats fabric. It is a little big on her, under the arms, and I think I really need to learn how to do a FBA for any future tops I make for her. It works ok though as she is happier with a long sleeve tee-shirt underneath. The bias binding is a bit of the striped fabric. I really enjoyed the look of this and am dreaming of a liberty trim on a future versions.

The rest of the striped polycotton became the Saltmarsh skirt also from the workbook. It is a super easy make, with a sewn waistband,pockets and a drawstring. I took 3 inches from the bottom and put it together in a couple of hours.

My mum thankfully is pleased with the pieces I have made. I count myself very lucky that she let me take photos as she is usually very camera shy. The photos were taken five minutes walk from my house.

There are two more patterns in the book another Tank with a racer back ( I can’t imagine my mum wearing that) and a linen Jacket a long and short version which I quite fancy making the long at some point. Red linen mmmm!

WE are very lucky to live here!

As for the scraps? I decided to make one of my #2018makenine. Datura by Dear and Doe. For some reason I had got it into my head that this pattern was going to be complicated. Again it is bit a big under the arms but I really like the pattern it is a very easy make ( the buttons are just sewn on!) and is perfect for small bits of Fabric.

If you are wondering about the shawl it was designed and made by my very clever friend Olga a few years back you can get the pattern here.

I am now dreaming of a Capsule wardrobe for me. Luckily Sew Over It have just obliged with their Work To Weekend Collection whch I am busy printing out!

Till Next Time

A x

Whoa Nellie!

Don’t get me wrong I would never look a gift horse in the mouth, but if I have paid for something and I believe it to be substandard I am going to get annoyed fairly quickly and the Republique du Chiffon Nellie made me feel just that!

I think that they have some beautiful designs in their repertoire and have been eyeing up the Suzon blouse since last summer. So when a couple of my friends decided that they would put together a challenge for Nellie I decided to give it a go. The pattern was 9 euro’s which is fairly normal for a pdf although you don’t get the choice on how you print it. Anyone who knows me, knows I am A0 all the way I hate cut and stick!

Although I would have to say that they all fit together really well.

So I started cutting out my size and then realised that there aren’t any seam allowances added to the main bits of this pattern. What?! In this day and age when I am printing and cutting it myself you haven’t added seam allowances??? So I then retraced it adding seam allowances.

I then start looking closely at the pattern …there aren’t any pattern markings, notches or button placement on the pattern either! Not really goo enough for a pattern that you have paid for but Ok, I think, I am experienced I’ve got this!

At the end of a frustrating day I had a blouse that looked like this ( it is now in the bin)

Hmmm!My beautiful fabric, I could of cried!

After a very sleepless night,I went stash diving, starting again in the morning from scratch. This is the result. The ruffles aren’t as well executed on this one as the first. But I have to confess I rushed it this time around!

Anyway I am sure , like a few of my friends, I have now wet your appetite enough to want to try this for yourself. Do you think you will Join the #RDCNelliechallenge on Instagram?

If So these are my observations.

The pattern says: measure yourself naked Do Not measure yourself naked the top will not fit over your bra!

When I remeasured over my clothes I chose a size slightly bigger Which was Size 42. This is a 92 cm bust. then added another 3cm to each of the sides and to the bottom. I used an over locker on them without cutting any off. As you can see this came out at a 44 inches (112 cm) which is 8cm larger than the biggest size. Although nowhere does it actually give you what size the actual garment will be! 

The pattern suggests 1cm seam allowance, I went for the industry standard and added 1.5cm around the other bits of the pattern

The pattern says : “Attach the finishing tape to both armholes. If you need any help, a free technical sheet “La bande de propreté” is available on website’s Journal, under “Tutoriels et techniques”.

Personally as I just paid them 9 Euro’s I feel that they should give me the information in the pattern. I was even less impressed when I realised these notes are in French and I don’t speak french. You can probably work it out from the pictures but luckily if you need tips, Lauren Guthrie and Lisa Comfort both have good tutorials online to help you with this.

So after a busy, stressful couple of days I have a pretty summer top. I did tell you I thought the designs were nice!

However ,if you are wondering why after all that why it doesn’t have buttonholes? My buttonhole foot fell apart, I think my stress levels were starting to rub off on it.

Till Next time happy stitching


The best laid plans 

Happy Easter Everyone,
I hope you are having a lovely bank holiday weekend! As it is the first of the month, I thought I would reminise about my makes of March and my plans for April. So first up … was the Belledone dresses that I made for the day and night dress challenge. You can read about them here What you don’t know is that I won a prize! $50 dollars to spend on patterns. so my pattern stash has expanded!

Then, yep you guessed it another Southbank dress. I timed myself for this one , 45 minutes from start to finish. The fabric is a really thick cosy sweatshirt material that I bought from dragon-fly fabrics. I love the colour and I love how warm it is. Unfortunately I think the fabric is a little thick for a dress as it is not very flattering, I am going to overlook that, especially as the weather has been so cold!

Then I managed the Agnes top, as you would expect from Tilly and the Buttons it is an excellent straight forward pattern, I really don’t know why I haven’t made it before now as I have had the pattern literally years!!! My DH says that he really likes the stripes, I am not sure that is that flattering worn by itself ( that mad rippling is not just happening in the pictures), it looks fine though when worn with either of my Cleo Pinafores. I love the shape of this top and have stashed a bit of fabric to make a couple of others really soon!
Then probably my favourite make of the year! The Sew over it Ultimate Trousers. Now these were really just an experiment. Many years ago I did a city and Guilds in pattern cutting. The woman who ran it was fierce! Half way through my trouser block toile she looked me up and down and in a tone that Hyacinth Bucket would of been proud of inquired “Horse riding thighs?”

I am not quite sure why women have the need to pull other women down, the comment struck a nerve and for a long time after I only wore jeans or dresses. I never used the block and until now I have never made a pair of trouser either. These I would have to say are a very easy make and I really love the finished item. Alright, so maybe pale pink trousers aren’t for the everyday, on warm sunny weekends though, I think they will be perfect!

I also managed to finish my Ninilchik-Swoncho which you can read about here
I have started Carbeth by Kate Davies, it is knitting up very quickly most of it being knit in the car on a recent trip to Belgium. I am hoping to have it completed by the end of tomorrow.

That unfortunately, was the extent of my March makes, with the exception of a pattern test which I can’t show you yet. I started but haven’t completed my Kalle blouse. I am hoping to get a good crack at that during the week.

So my sewing plans for April… Finish Kalle and make the Tilly and the buttons Marigold jumpsuit which is the #sewmystyle April offering. Not much I know however I am feeling I want a more flexible sewing month so I don’t want to do much planning. however, I am drooling over a couple of the projects in Tilly’s new book stretch and I also have signed up for a couple more instagram challenges #alittlelawnparty and #sewtogetherforsummer

As for knitting/Crochet… Finish Carbeth and I think try and finish at least on of the blankets that I have on the go before I go stash diving for my next project.

Till next time happy stitching

Arianwen x

A wrapped in a woolly hug ! 

Hello all,
anyone who knows me, in person, will tell you that I am very cold blooded and I actually think that there is no such thing as too hot! This pretty much makes the the ninilchik-swoncho the perfect garment ! I absolutely loved it as soon as I saw it on Ravelry. The original pattern calls for dk yarn on a 4mm needle, I didn’t have enough scraps for this in DK but I did in Aran . It is mainly Drops Nepal and I knit it up on a 4.5mm needle which meant that it came out a bit bigger than the original but created a lovely dense fabric especially over the fair-isle pattern.

It knit up very quickly and I would say that it would probably be a good first colour work project, because of the tension. I tried very hard to just use yarn I had which meant adding a fourth colour to the fair-isle work. it was quite liberating to just pick up and colour and start knitting. I am very happy with the result.

I think that maybe it didn’t need the last lot of increases after the fair-isle as there is some rippling at that point, but that might just be me being picky. Unfortunately I ran out of the grey about 120g from the end so ended up buying more but used up lots more so I don’t feel too bad about it! Because Ihad to order more yarn I lengthened both the arms and the body which I am glad about as both are a better length on me.

As you can see I was just about the right temperature on the ferry to Calais at the weekend and I enjoyed wearing it all weekend so I imagine that it will get lots of wear next year…right now I am hoping that I can put it away and enjoy some sunshine!

It has a been a bit longer between blog posts than I would of liked, but the weather has not been very conducive to taking photos! Fortunately for me, I am just about to start My Easter break, so hopefully I can catch you up on all of my recent makes. Watch this space!

Till the next time happy stitching

Arianwen x

Coffee and Cocktails #dayandnightdresschallenge

I did kind of mention this way back at the beginning of February but I had kind of decided that I just wouldn’t get around to it ah well these things happen. Then the weather gave me snow days!!! Yippee! My children are too big to need me to go out and play in the snow so I have had three lovely extra days. Ok so I didn’t get to spend all of it sewing but on Friday morning I decided that I would go for it and complete the challenge.

The Belledone dress by Dear and Doe was bought for my birthday last summer and it has been on my things to do list since then. One of the reasons that I hadn’t got around to making it was quite simply the bias binding. All of the versions that I had seen, that I loved, had extra binding on the back detail. Well not only do I hate playing with bias binding I just couldn’t work out how to add it for this detail so I kind of ended up procrastinating and just ignoring it.

Giving myself such a short deadline I didn’t have time to fiddle about so I did two things that I rarely do.

1. I cut the pattern ( I can always get net printer to print me a pristine new one)

2 and this which is worse I cut a size smaller than I would usually make and kept everything crossed (I usually make it too big and then take it in)!

Luckily both of these extravagances paid off although I did have to adjust the zipper seam allowance in order to pull it up my back.

For Coffee I am wearing a Rose and Hubble cotton that I bought back in September from the Pound a yard store in Dewsbury. I had two metres and with a slightly lengthened skirt I had just enough. knew I wanted the bias binding to be a feature and when I saw this hot pink on Saturday In my local Samual Taylors I knew I had found it.

So if you are interested to add bias binding to the back just follow the folding instructions for the back pieces and then add the bias binding over the top. I also decided to add it to the waistband. For the bias binding at the waist I folded the bias binding in half and then sewed that seam with a 1/4 inch seam allowance instead of the usual. 

The dress turned out exactly as I envisaged. My DH said it was too nice for a coffee date and my daughter said it was the nicest thing I have ever made myself. In all honesty, the bias binding isn’t perfect ( anything but) I think it is only me that will notice!!

For Cocktails ( or for a dinner date with my husband later this month) I used the scraps leftover from my youngest daughter’s prom dress. 

I trimmed it with black bias binding from my stash. This bias binding is synthetic and was much easier to work with but even this wasn’t perfect. I realise it probably won’t get that much wear as it really isn’t that practical. Who cares ! 

I love this dress not only is it really pretty but it makes me think of my children at Prom.

Both dresses were made exactly to the pattern… well except for the extra bias binding and extra skirt length:) It was really nice making two of the same thing at once. I used to do it all the time when the twins were little. It actually doesn’t take any more time than making one. I maybe should keep that in mind for my future makes!

Till next time happy stitching!!

Arianwen x

Sneaking in another Southbank and March Plans

Hello all, I promise not to start every month with pictures of Southbank Sweater dresses but here is another taken at the sculpture park, last week. I fell in the mud less than 10 minutes after it was taken which amused my daughter no end !! I have to say I wasn’t as productive as I was hoping during February , it just seemed to speed by .

I haven’t quite finished my Ninilchik Swoncho although I only have one more sleeve so hopefully over the weekend I can put that to bed! I managed to finish Rumana which was my #2018sewmystyle feb challenge and as it turned out my #2018makenine project too. My fabric stash, however, seems to be growing at an alarming rate.Whoops! During half-term I managed a trip to Fabworks will Eleanor from nelnanandnora and my youngest. It was our first meet up and was great fun pottering around the fabric shops. Unfortunately, I actually think it is impossible to go into Fabworks and come home empty handed!  

So these are my purchases . The green jersey was just crying out to be a Southbank Sweater Dress and was a bargain as it was in the remnants bin. I think from start to finish it took less than two hours. Immediate gratification!! I love these dresses, they are perfect for dressing up or down and the have the distinct advantage of being really warm. I can see more in my near future!

So Plans for March. First up is the Closet Case Kalle pattern I have been eyeing this up since Lauren Guthrie made her version last year and as I have now discovered via @SewSarahSmith on instagram a button covering service how awesome is that? I can’t wait to use them! I am also planning on sewing up all of my new stash. 

The pink will be a pair of ultimate trousers ( my first pair of trousers gulp!!!) and the stripes will be an Agnes. 

The dark teal I have 2.5 metres and I am thinking maybe the SOI 1940’s wrap dress but that idea might change. The camouflage belongs to my daughter so I don’t need to worry about that 🙂

I also have joined up #makeyourstash the idea is you make up something that you have had in your stash for at least 6 months. I have some pretty pale pink Corduroy left over from my Cleo Pinafore so I am hoping that I have enough to make a SOI Erin Skirt. I am hoping to do the pockets etc in this stripey quilting fabric which has been in my stash for at least 8 years

So those are my sewing plans ….

For knitting I am planning to cast on Carbeth I have a whole load of Bright Turquoise yarn that has been in stash for years which I think will be perfect doubled up!

Rumana -For those days when you want to be a pirate!

For those of you who don’t know, I love coats! For other women it is shoes or handbags, but for me it is coats! I bought my first Duster coat from Wallis when I was 16. A beautiful, black wool and cashmere mix floor length wrap. It was beautiful and I loved it! I wore it daily until I was about 22 and I fell in love with bright, orangey red, wool and cashmere mix in the Hobbs window. It was floor length, shawl collared and fastened with a large single button. I bought a medium in case I got fat which turned out to be a good plan as I wore through my first pregnancy and then later with my eldest tucked up inside. This one I wore until I moved to Yorkshire where the world seemed more straight laced and conservative and it languished in my cupboard for a number of years until a lack of space in my wardrobe demanded that I threw it out.

Now don’t get me wrong I have had lots of lovely coats from Boden and from Hobbs since then but none of them have been dusters and none as amazing as the first two!

When I saw the Rumana coat on Instagram I literally gasped! The perfect coat!!!

As soon as it was released on Boxing day I bought it. It went straight into my #2018makenine and was the reason I signed up to #2018sewmystyle.

I had imagined a dark coloured coat with a bright lining a bit like this one that I have been drooling over for the last 16 years. 

As I said in my last post I bought the lovely Melton Fabric from Ebay and I was drawn to the beautiful lady McElroy fabrics for the lining but the one that I really liked had been chosen by one of pattern testers. Well let’s face it if you are going to make a coat, you want it to be unique so I decided to carry on looking!

Then I had a brainwave!! Parrots!! I love parrots they are smart and colourful and they are linked to pirates and adventure! This gorgeous fabric has been in my stash since just before Christmas , I bought it from the Pound a yard store in Dewsbury and I had thought I might make an Anna dress out of it. My eldest assures me it is Ted Baker, but I honestly don’t care it is the perfect finishing touch for my coat.

I made the size 12 measuring off of a coat that I own as I figured that measuring for a coat in my underwear probably wasn’t the best way of tackling the sizing. I think I could of probably have graded down a size especially at the bust for something a little more fitted but as they say hindsight is 20/20!

The pattern pieces fit together really well without having to juggle any of the pieces. Which was just as well as I decided on making welt buttonholes and the Colette instructions I followed cut both the front and the facing at the same time. Nerve wracking !

However, the instructions are not really what you would expect from By Hand London. I have a feeling that they were as excited to give us the pattern as the sewing community was to receive it and consequently the written instructions and the diagrams are sparse. After I had sewn the sides together I realised the Pale pink one that Elisalex had made had top stitching on the pockets but as far as I could see there wasn’t an mention of this so I unpicked and put them in. I know that they are planning a sew along and I will definitely look at that for the bits that really had me scratching my head.

So my coat. I love it. It is pretty much perfect. I added shoulder pads for a little bit more structure. The sleeves are still a little puffier than I would like, I think probably because of my fabric choice, so I might unpick at some point and shave a bit off the sleeve head.This is only a slight niggle. The whole thing feels really luxurious and wearing it feels elegant.Though the lining is wild and panders to my 16 year old self. 

The footnote to my story is that both of my previous much loved dusters had a hole in the lining where I stuck my foot through it… Each piece of damage was done within the first week. Back then I wasn’t really a sewer and the holes were badly stitched. This time, however, I am ready I saved some of the lining as you can’t really being a pirate without a Patch!

Till next time happy sewing


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