The importance of dye lots – My Myrna cardigan

You may remember a passing reference to my Myrna here.

This is where we last left it….

Myrna-in-progress

Unfortunately, it has been frogged three times since then and is well, now a collection of balls of yarn hibernating at the bottom of my knitting bag. Rarely have I had such misfortune with a knitting project.

First off, Andi released some amendments to her pattern as the row gauge had been shown incorrectly. These things happen and it was  clearly explained and a number of versions of the pattern with various row gauges are now available.

I fished out my tape measure and checked my Myrna against the measurements that I should have at that point and realised that I did need to undo the fronts as the revised pattern was every so slightly different.

I quickly re-knitted the fronts – perhaps too quickly? Once again I came to joining the back and front to knit the rest of the body and…….. arrrrgggghhhh……

I’d managed to twist one of the fronts when I picked up the stitches along the shoulder of the back and I had one front facing one way and another in a completely different direction – this was NOT going to make a cardigan!!

Cue unraveling number two….

Following the correct pattern, making sure I checked that the fronts were both facing the right way, I started again and reached the point where I needed to join under the arms. I held my handiwork up to admire the pattern…….

Hmmmpphh – what more could go wrong you ask?

All I could see was a stripe across one of the fronts where I had changed balls of yarn.

Now I’m sure many a knitter out there knows that you need to buy your yarn all from the same dye lot. Occasionally I flout this rule (*gasp*) and so far I have been lucky. Some yarns are obviously better at hiding any slight variation in colour.

Drops Paris is NOT one of those yarns.

I was all too aware that I was using different dye lots. I was trying to use two part balls from a previous project and I had compared them both in natural light and couldn’t see any difference but well, trust me when I say that knitted up there was a significant difference!

In almost disbelief I started unraveling again and this time flung the balls into my knitting bag consigning them to the ‘another day’ pile in what was probably close to a teenage strop!

The next day though, I revisited the pattern, looked at the yardage I had (in the same die lot) and decided that I probably did have just enough to make my Myrna.

But those balls of Drop Paris are still in the bottom of my knitting bag as I really couldn’t face another installment of the dreaded frogging.

So instead, I’m plodding my way through a second school cardigan (I’m quite bored of it now!) whilst dabbling in a spot of crochet (from the self-confessed non-crocheter!!).

Please do share your knitting disasters because I’m really hoping that it isn’t just me!

Petite Anna from By Hand of London

Anna-at-Greenway I’m sitting here with my leg on a chair and a bag of frozen peas draped around my ankle. 17 days after spraining my ankle whilst out running it’s still swollen and sometimes painful. My physio tells me that it’s heading in the right direction pretty much as she’d expect it to but chances are it’ll still be another 3 – 4 weeks before I can run.

Oh well….. there’s always sewing :-) And there has been plenty going on recently, but first I need to get my summer makes out of the way!

I’d forgotten how hectic the summer months get. I had thought that I’d get some sewing done over the school holidays but this year, for some reason, my girls decided that they were going to fall out, scream ‘I hate you’ (generally at each other, occasionally at me!) and go into complete meltdown on a regular basis.

I did however manage to make a dress for ME!!! That was before I realised that the start of term was looming and I needed to get myself together so that the girls both had things to wear – more on that soon.

Last year, I had wanted to make Colette’s Hawthorn but ummm’ed and ahhh’ed over it, mostly because I knew that I was going to have to do an SBA (small bust adjustment) and well, couldn’t quite bring myself to it, plus the fabric that I’d chosen to make it in is a striped seersucker and, well, I couldn’t face the pattern matching either!! Does anyone else get like this?

Anyway, fast forward to this year and I was still procrastinating. For some reason (probably a bit too much reading of Lynne’s blog Ozzy Blackbeard!!), I changed tack completely and downloaded By Hand of London’s Anna dress. Now I know you don’t need to read many sewing blogs to see them cropping up with regularity but the style really appealed to me.

I started off sewing it as is – no alterations. I was pretty confident it wouldn’t fit but I was willing to give it a go! It was obvious I needed a SBA and a few other changes too. Four muslins later, I’d done a 1″ SBA, a small back adjustment and a similar change to the front as well as raising the neckline. I only did a muslin of the bodice, mostly because by this stage I’d had enough!! Despite being 5′ 1″, I didn’t find that I need to shorten the bodice or the length ( I used the PDF  pattern) but I guess that most of the other changes I made are in line with changing something to fit a petite frame.

Anna-at-Eden_1

SBA’s, I find aren’t discussed with as much regularity as their larger sister the full bust adjustment (FBA). When looking for instructions on how to do an SBA, I’ve often found that you’ll simply see ‘just do the opposite of a FBA’. For those who have been puzzling over the exact same statement, I’ll explain. In a FBA adjustment you draw your adjustment lines on the pattern, cut and move the pattern pieces apart. If you’re doing a SBA, you draw the exact same adjustment lines, cut and this time move the pattern pieces together so that they overlap. How much you overlap them by will depend on  how much you need to reduce the cup size by. A muslin can help determine this by pinching out the excess fabric and measuring it. I did see a reference chart on Pinterest recently but I’m not sure it’s incorporates the full picture.

Fit wise, I’d still like to see a few changes – the shoulders are too wide for me and the neckline doesn’t always sit very well most probably because the shoulders are too wide. Because I hadn’t muslined the skirt and my alterations had meant that the pleats on my bodice had moved, the paneled skirt didn’t line up with the pleats as I imagine it is meant to. I’m sure most people wouldn’t spot that, but the perfectionist in me wants to line them all up.

I had chosen the v neckline on purpose, as normally I’d have gone for the slash neck but I was sewing it to go with a Myrna cardigan as part of Lauren and Andi’s OAL (Outfit Along)

The least said about that the better …. but maybe I’ll share with you one day as there are always lessons to be learned.

The fabric is a cotton lawn from Stone Fabrics and I lined it with an off-white lightweight cotton poplin on their recommendation. And they were spot on, if I had lined it with a darker colour it would have shown through on the lighter coloured flowers.

I really love this dress – despite its minor imperfections – and it has been a bit of a wardrobe staple throughout the summer. I had completely forgotten how easy dresses are to wear and the lack of wardrobe dilemmas involved!

Anna-at-Eden_2

Well that could be summer all wrapped up. I’m looking forwards to getting some autumn and winter sewing underway, finishing off my first White Tree Fabrics make and getting on with some winter knitting.

How about you? Are you mourning the passing of summer or looking forwards to those cosy knits and snuggly coats?

Knitting and nattering

It has been some time since I’ve been to our local knit and natter group – without really counting I’ve been once in the past 4 years! Blame pregnancy, babies/small children who don’t like sleeping and more recently running.

A sprained ankle has knocked running on the head for a little while so a timely window of opportunity presented itself.

Evening chores completed, I grabbed my bag of projects (yes – note projects (plural)) and headed out the door.

DB-silk-bolero

Finishing the Debbie Bliss silk bolero. The picture doesn’t really do the yarn (so soft & silky) or the colour (purple) justice.

I can honestly say, it was a lovely way to spend a couple of hours and I even got some knitting done (with limited unpicking! – am I the only one to get so distracted that I forget my pattern altogether??).

Myrna-in-progress

My Andi Satterlund Myrna in progress. I am knitting the 24 rows version using Drops Paris (and I struggle to not think of dishcloths whilst knitting!) omitting the keyhole back.

Everyone else was crocheting but I’m yet to be a serious convert. “Let’s ‘stitch and bitch’ instead!” came the cry. But let me tell you, it wasn’t a popular alternative. We’re clearly a bunch of natterer’s.

Topics were varied & plentiful from impending teenage proms, weaving ends in on granny squares (“what!!!” cried the finishing phobic), capital gains & inheritance tax, housebuilding, to why Jo (Three Stories High) buried her cross stitch in the garden! It’s both a hilarious and yet poignant story of what one does with those projects that have gone south but with which we cannot break the bond of the work and investment that has gone into them. I’m hoping Jo will share the story with her readers one day, as it really is a story worth telling.

So shall I become a regular again? My schedules need a bit of juggling – as a girl’s got to run, especially with half-marathons on the horizon – but I certainly hope to make it more frequently than once every 4 years!!

From maxi-skirt to cape – sewing to order

As I was reading my friend Jo’s blog (Three Stories High) the other day, I realised that a lot of the clothes, accessories etc that I make are very much to order. When I’m sewing for the girls, it just makes sense to sew what they want and get them involved in pattern and fabric choices. As Honey is 8, she’s pretty clear about what she’d like although often has difficulty visualising what things will look like (I’m sure this isn’t only with 8 year olds!!).

Today Honey has taken part in her class assembly where they put on a performance of Julia Donaldson’s ‘The Highway Rat’. It was a fabulous take on a children’s classic and she really looked the part as a ‘highway rat/robber’.

Last week, I was told they needed a ‘costume’ (my heart always sinks a little at this point, as I know I’ll no doubt have to cram some swift refashioning into an already busy schedule). I’m sure there are some amongst you who think ‘why not head to the shops?’ but (a) that’s not very practical for me as it means dragging a 4 year old on the bus and around quite a few shops with no guarantee of success; and (b) why buy new, when really, you can probably ‘make do’?

The brief was a white shirt (preferably frilly), dark trousers & cape. Now I decided that I really didn’t have the energy to go adding frills to a school shirt but we did need to find something that would work as a cape. A root through the lower confines of my wardrobe unearthed a navy sarong which showed promise but after a bit of fiddling I realised that Honey was going to spend all her time making sure that it didn’t slide off her shoulders. I didn’t think her teacher would thank me for that.

Then I discovered a discarded maxi-skirt. I plonked it over Honey’s head…. and hey presto… the beginnings of a cape were born.

It was a very straightforward transformation.

All I did was to cut it up the middle and finish both sides with my overlocker (in fact I didn’t even cut it first, I just went straight in with the overlocker). If you don’t have an overlocker, you could use pinking shears as a no sew option, finish the edges with a zig-zag stitch or for a fully finished approach sew a narrow hem along the edges.

The skirt had some belt loops, so I removed these and used one as a button loop. Other options would be a piece of elastic or piece of bias binding folded and stitched.

To add the button loop, I folder the waistband in half to the inside (so its inside out) and tucked the button loop ends into the seam allowance on the inside (so when you fold it the right side out, it’s on the outside). I then simply overlocked the seam. I created the same seam on the other end of the waist band and turned it the right way out.

I realised that the ribbing of the waistband was going to curl a lot and not stay put. So to put that right, I simply folded it in half, pressed and used a narrow zigzag stitch along the loose edge to keep in place as a double waistband.

Finally, I dug deep into the button tin and found a perfect match!

Et VOILA – from maxi-skirt to highway robber’s cape in less than 40 minutes!!

Now that’s what I call success.

Next on order, I’m afraid it’s a round of school uniform.

How about you? Do you sew to order?

Flowers (or is that weeds?) in the garden – Oliver & S Roller Skate Dress

I am a huge fan of the Oliver & S patterns. They are classic shapes and styles that you can make time after time regardless of how old your child gets; the instructions are beautifully clear and well I’ve yet to have even the slightest hint of a head scratching moment and their pdf patterns tape together perfectly with no hassle whatsoever – which in my mind if a huge bonus!!

As with all my makes, there comes a bit of a story. Each year I make Honey a summer dress for school. The past 3 years, I have been revising and redrafting a self-drafted pattern. This year I felt like doing something different (read, I really didn’t have the energy to re-draft again, oh and fix last years mistakes!).

Last years self-drafted red gingham dress on a perfectly happy & year old!

Last years self-drafted red gingham dress on a perfectly happy & 7 year old!

I had thought that the Roller Skate dress would be a really easy pull-on style dress that would take some of the hassle out of getting changed for PE and maybe speed up the getting ready in the morning process (I can but dream?!). But Honey wasn’t convinced and suggested that maybe I could make her a dress in this fabric that she’d seen in my cupboard and had had her eye on for some time?

Yes – well every mother is a sucker for that routine aren’t they? So here it is, the ‘flowers in the garden’ version of the Roller Skate dress.

It is a seriously quick and rapid make and is fully lined! I took a few measurements first and decided to cut size age 5 for the width and size age 8 for the length and I couldn’t have asked for a better fit.

Flowersinthegarden_1

And the acid test, does my daughter like it? She loves it. Every time it reappears in her wardrobe fresh from the never-ending laundry cycle, it’s back on her again.

I’m sure you’ll all now want to see the school version that I’ve made, won’t you? …. well, ahem … I haven’t quite got that far and last years dress still fits!!!!

Flowersinthegarden_2

and yes, Mummy, there are LOTS of dandelions in the garden!

 

 

Bigger Booty shorts ?? My Dualthon’s & the Spring Race Challenge

At the start of April, I was due to run my first half marathon. I’d sorted out an injury, put in the training and whilst feeling rather apprehensive was ready to go. Enter taper week (for races, you tend to have a period of ‘rest’ that lets your body recover and feel refreshed and injury free ready for the big day). I came down with some bug that just left me wiped. I was exhausted and had a horrible rash. A trip to the GP had me leaving with a prescription and some pretty strong words that running was not advisable.

It was a tough decision to make (and I have to say a few tears were shed). I tried a short run the day before the race but it was clear that I was really going to struggle with the distance even at a conservative plod. Suffice to say, I went out and supported my fellow group members who did make it.

Once I recovered, I needed something new to look forwards to. The weather was hotting up and and I thought ‘I need shorts!!’.

I’ve always loved the idea of Melissa from Fehr Trade’s booty shorts.

Look at that concentration?! Market Drayton 10k

Look at that concentration?! I’m no. 426 – Market Drayton 10k

This time, I knew what alterations to make before I started. I used the smallest size and added a smidge to the waist and took an inch or so out of the hips. I didn’t take anything out of the length as I really didn’t think this would be necessary.

They were super speedy to cut out and sew. Even with my inadvertent basting of the pockets the wrong way up (apparently they’re good for tennis ball storage!!), I had them done in very little time.

The fit was great from the first try on (although with hindsight they could probably have done with being slightly snugger through the legs) and I was really pleased with them.

Next step – the test run. I was a bit worried as I often have problems on my crotch seams, with them coming unravelled, so I had sewn my shorts in both directions for extra security. But last thing I wanted was for any incidents on route, so I found the biggest pair of pants I could and off I went!!

I’m pleased to say there were no incidents. I tried them again, in company, later the same week. My friend very kindly pointed out they they were riding up a bit when I was running and revealing , well,  a little cheek!

After a bit of analysis, I decided that they needed to be a bit longer and some griper elastic might not be a bad idea. I used the narrow version from Kleins (think holds up or strapless bras and you’ll picture the silicone beading along the elastic). I sewed it to the right side of each leg (having measured it around my leg first – I think it needs to be a little shorter than your actual leg circumference, I just used the overlap to sew it together). I then stretched and sewed on both the top and bottom edges with a very short, narrow zigzag and then hemmed again (this time much narrower). When I’m not wearing them, I do now have wavy legs from the elastic, but once they’re on, they’re just fine and I don’t notice it’s there.

Do they work, I hear you ask? Yes and no. I think my shorts need to be longer still because they only just provide sufficient coverage. Despite narrow hips I clearly have a big bum!! The elastic works reasonably well, but I think the wider elastic would work better for me.

But you know what, despite their imperfections, I still wear them – they are really comfy to run in and as for the pockets…. they are FABULOUS. So many of the runners in my group are jealous of them.

I do plan to make more pairs of these (another bonus is that I’m sure I can get at least 3 pairs from one metre of fabric – now that’s what I call value!!) but I’m going to make them a little longer and and narrower on the leg and try without the gripper elastic.

Well on my way to fixing those 'funky arms'! - 10k Chase Challenge

Well on my way to fixing those ‘funky arms’! – 10k Chase Challenge

My shorts have now served me well in not one, but two races. My inhaler sits perfectly in the pockets and I don’t even notice it’s there. Although given the length of my t-shirt you can hardly see my shorts!

So here it is: my first entry to Fehr Trade’s Spring Race Challenge! Want to enter? You still have the whole of June to get sewing and sweating.

 

 

 

Spring Race Challenge anyone?

I’m taking part in…

Spring Race Challenge

Well it would be hard not to wouldn’t it? And there is still almost a month left to get sewing and racing!

No races you can think of entering? Why not try Parkrun? These are free 5km events that are held every week around the country and most probably in your local park. If you have kids you can take them with you. Some have shorter runs for children, but otherwise, so long as they’re over 4 years old they can run with you, they get their own time and after 10 runs will get a t-shirt! Check out their website for details as to how to register and “Don’t forget your barcode!”

My first entry will be coming soon. And I may manage to fit another one in before the deadline on 7th July!!

We sweat and we sew!!