Self-drafted skirt

A couple of weeks ago, I made this basic pencil skirt block.

Now, as you will have noticed, I’m not really the corporate chic kinda girl, and you might have asked yourself why I bothered.

Well, the reason behind this was that I was hoping to be invited to a 2nd interview for a new job. My contract with my previous employer had come to an end, and to be perfectly honest, by that time I was ready to move on. The only fly in the ointment was that there are not a lot of jobs open right now in my field, and the few there were didn’t thrill me.

Now, that might sound incredibly spoiled and a tad snooty in times of recession, but I do believe that it’s a better deal for everybody involved if you like your work. 40 hours a week are simply too much time to be spent doing something you can’t draw satisfaction from.

Back to the pencil skirt … now, in my line of work, the dress code usually is “business casual”, heavily leaning towards casual – as long as you’ve covered your primary gender characteristics, you should be fine. But interviewing is a whole different affair, and it’s always a good idea to err on the side of caution and let people know you’re willing to make the effort.

And a quick, inexpensive and easy make to achieve  that – tadaaa, the pencil skirt.

So I bought some purple herringbone suiting and matching lining, and set about drafting a pattern.

Purple Herringbone
Purple Herringbone

Then it turned out that I didn’t have to go the the 2nd interview in person, and that the company I was talking to prided themselves in not having any dress code at all (which is not to be confused with not being dressed for work, mind you!). You see, they’re in Gibraltar, where it’s hot and sunny and sometimes really hot and super sunny. Suits just don’t make a lot of sense in that kind of climate.

So I started rethinking what kind of skirt I could make (since I had all the notions and such), and eventually settled for this as my inspiration:

Inspiration For source click on the image, please.

Some hacking of my basic skirt block later, this was born:

Self-drafted skirt with pocket flaps
Self-drafted skirt with pocket flaps

I think it turned out well. The pocket flaps are fake, there are no real pockets, which is a bit of a bummer, and I’ve hence tried to wrap my head around how to include real pockets underneath, without a real result so far. Tips will be super welcome!

I have not used a waistband here, as I felt the look would be cleaner without, so instead I put a facing on the inside:

Facing
Facing

The zip is inserted as a lapped zipper – I should have known that wasn’t the smartest choice, as it’s a tad bulky due to the heavy-weight corduroy I used (leftovers from this jeans), but in itself it turned out beautifully:

Lapped zipper
Lapped zipper

But of course now I’m all over this, and really want to make this skirt:

Really now … For source, please click on the image.

Or maybe something with double-welt pockets.

Oh, and the job? I’ve got it, and I’ll be moving to Gibraltar by mid January. I am so excited – they have monkeys over there!!

Monkey in Gibraltar. For source, please click on the image.

 

Another stripey triangle

Looking back over the makes of the last months, it’s clear that I have been fascinated by the interaction between colour and texture. A lot of my makes utilise purl ridges to make a contrast colour really pop – like my Caterpillar Cardigan.

This triangle shawl uses the same basic technique, and even very similar yarns. The green lambswool has been replacec by (naturally) brown shetland lace, but the long colour changes are provided by some Kauni effect yarn in pink/beige (or EJ, on the linked page):

Kauni effect yarn pink/beige

Other than that, it’s a very simple, classic triangle shawl. Started at the top of the “spine”, I just alternated 2 rows of Shetland in garter stitch with 2 rows of Kauni in stockinette until I thought it was big enough (it’s just about, could have done with a couple of more inches, as I really wanted a huge shawl to wrap around me and use as jacket substitute).

Stripey triangle blocking
Stripey triangle blocking

Initially, I was going to do a bi-colour ruffled edging, but then ran out of yarn. Or, as it turned out, didn’t really, however could not find the 2 balls I was sure were somewhere (a project bag in the big seagrass box all my WIPs live in – in other words, exactly where they should have been. I’m not sure how that temporary blindness came over me …) but couldn’t locate at the time.

So I ripped it out, smartly without having taken any photos, and replaced it by a simple variation on a Van Dyke Edging.

Stripey triangle van dyke-ish edging
Stripey triangle van dyke-ish edging

I really like the effect these long colour changes have when combined with a solid contrast colour, and have a feeling I’m not done playing with that … I think a striped cardigan might be next, this time leaving out the purl ridges and sticking to stockinette.

Stripey triangle
Stripey triangle

Or maybe another shawl, as I have a a skein of Kauni lace …

Another shawl?

A scarf for Him

This scarf has been made as a (by now embarrassingly late) birthday present for my mum’s hubby. He specified it should be “black” and “soft”.

That, it is:

Diagonally textured scarf

I used Rowan Cashsoft, which is indeed wonderfully soft. I’m still a bit miffed about the splicing bumps, and I do have a feeling it’ll pill quite badly, but that remains to be seen.

At this point, I’m happy with how the scarf turned out, and hope the recipient will like it, too!

Other than that it’s been quiet on the blog, and you know by now that means my life has taken a turn in one way or another. I’ll give you more details as soon as I have convinced myself I’m not dreaming, and this is all really happening 😀 Only so much – it’s all good, and I believe I’ve just been given a great opportunity.

Now move along, please. Nothing to see.

 

Basic skirt block

My plan for Saturday was simple: go to fabricland, don’t get lured into buying tons of fabric (maybe, if they still have that black wool/cashmere mix … I still need a warm coat!), grab some thread, fusible interfacing, a couple of zippers, new needles. Go home and sew up the muslin for New Look 6010. Added bonus points for using the massive bedcover I scored a little while back in a charity shop.

But then I made a mistake and looked out the window. I now wished I’d taken a photo for you … it was raining. Raining like it would never, ever stop again. It was raining when I woke up in the morning, and it was raining when I went to bed, and it didn’t stop even for a minute in between.

Now, I know that that’s the kind of weather England is famous for, but in all fairness, here in Brighton it happens rarely. Usually, when it does, it’s in winter. And it’s utterly depressing.

It was clear to me that I had no desire to venture out in that storm – did I mention the rain was flying sideways? It was.

So I decided to get myself another cuppa, and catch up on the roughly 430 sewing blogs I follow. This lead me to discover that there’s a free tutorial on Burdastyle on how to make a basic skirt block (amongst others, like bodice, dress, trousers … so much fun in the future, I just know it!). With me having planned sewing time, but not being able to obtain the thread (and not willing to press ahead with non-matching thread, of which I of course have several miles), I figured why not spend the morning trying this out?

skirt block drafting

Sadly, this is the only photo I took of the process, but in all fairness, there isn’t a lot more to see. With some paper (I used brown paper), a ruler, a measuring tape and a calculator, it took me a good hour to draft the block. French curves come in handy, but aren’t totally necessary.

When I was finished, it was still pissing down. Why not sew it up quickly?, said I to myself. Luckily, I had a bit under a meter left from my leopard print for the Temperley Knock-off, and I thought the somewhat wild fabric would save the skirt from being utterly boring, not having any details to speak of.

While it’s not perfect yet, I’m very chuffed with the result:

Leopard pencil skirt front

You can just about see the wrinkles in the front – that’s the part that needs  a bit work. I’m afraid the dreaded “prominent abdomen adjustment” is dangling over my head …

Leopard pencil skirt back

What you can’t really see here, as I wasn’t going to do a bum close-up, so you’ll have to take my word for it, is that the back waistband fits perfectly. It lies flat, no gaping, not a wrinkle in sight. Which kinda, sorta consoles me about the fat belly thing.

The birth of a scarf. With complications.

A while back I knit two shawls for family members, to give to them as birthday presents. I designed these simple shawls myself, if you fancy details you can see them on (publicly, so you don’t need to have an account) Ravelry – the simple Old Shale Triangle, and Nicoletta.

Now, I didn’t design these myself because there wasn’t enough choice out there. On the contrary, the knitting world is brimming with stunning and amazing shawl patterns. I designed them myself because I was in a bit of a triangle shawl frenzy, and also because it was fun to play around with some simple elements. It was very satisfying, and I am led to believe the recipients liked them, too.

A few weeks ago, it was my mother’s husband’s birthday. Obviously he should get a scarf, him not being a twenty-something hipster who’d appreciate a shawl. I did talk to him, so his, contrary to the two first ones, would not be a surprise, but I think that’s alright.

After having established his wish for a nice, soft, black scarf, I started to search for a pattern. And it was devastating. I was looking for something classy, rather conservative, but not boring. Well, yeah. Speaking of the proverbial needle in the haystack.

Serpentello

I eventually settled for Serpentello. It looked promising, and since my chosen yarn, Rowan Cashsoft 4 ply, was a good bit less chunky, I roughly doubled the stitch count.

rowan cashsoft black

That’s where the trouble really started. The yarn knits up rather nicely, it’s soft and squishy. The pattern is great, too – the two together, not so much. Or they would have been lovely for me – I can just see it with my Lady’s Raincoat … but not for Mr. MomsHubby.

One should think a simple ribbed cable would be gender neutral, but it had a very clear vibe of femininity about it.

So off to the frog pond it went. That made things more complicated. Not only did I already know, from my previous search, that good male scarf patterns are as easy to find as hen’s teeth. On top of that did the yarn not take the treatment too well. By that time, I started reading reviews for the yarn, which I probably should have done before I shelled out for it (okay, so it was on sale and required a fast decision …). All the reviewers pretty much agreed that it was a lovely yarn – until you wash it. Or, you know, wear it. It apparently pills like crazy.

And I have to say, it did look rather worse for wear after being frogged. Not unusable, but enough to give me doubts about it’s durability. But, with a shortage of funds and being really behind on my schedule, I knew I had to press on.

So I sat down, made a few drawings, and then came up with a super simple textured diagonal design that I’m happy with.

Unblocked mess

Why are there no great patterns for male scarfs out there, what do you think? Are the ones we actually like and use so simple nobody ever bothers writing them down?

Diagonal textured stripes

Pattern page update (and a small sale)

In preparation for more patterns I’m going to release soon-ish, I have updated the looks of my pattern page.

Unfortunately, the free hosted wordpress isn’t the most friendly for this kind of layout, and I’m not entirely happy with it yet, but it is better than it was before 😀 And my funds don’t allow me quite yet to host this blog myself …

All patterns are currently on sale for $0.99.
Anyways, these are the pattern currently published:

Nicoletta – a bicolour triangle shawlette in shetland lace yarn.

Nicoletta
Bi-colour triangle with a slight ruffle

Triangle of Trifles – a great project to us up an odd ball and some left-overs.

Triangle of Trifles – circular shawl, great for using up odd ends of lace.

Classic Shetland triangle with old shale lace border – just what it says in the name 🙂

Shetland Old Lace Triangle – A classic shetland pattern in Shetland lace.

Free download (Ravelry)

Living room sweatshop

As mentioned earlier this week, my current goal is to replace worn-out pieces in my wardrobe by shiny, new, hand-made ones.

The first step in that direction was that I made a knock-off of one of my long sleeve t-shirts. These are the items in my wardrobe I reach for most often. Most of my tops get worn with one underneath them. So they should be reasonably neutral, but also be able to stand up on their own, because they might just as well end up under one of my cardigans.

My first one turned out alright, but a smidge tight. By which I mean perfect for under, absolutely not acceptable for nothing over.

Black long sleeve t-shirt, pattern self-drafted knock off of High Street model

However, that was close enough to feel encouraging. Two points I’d like to point out which struck me as particularly useful in being able to make your own t-shirts:

  1. The arms.
    I really don’t believe mine are abnormally long, but more often than not long-sleeve garments end up being just a tad short. You know, that “barely half an inch” which means it’s still wearable but ever so often you’ll find yourself pulling the sleeve down a bit? Fixable 😀 Now I can have t-shirts down to my knuckles if I desire so (and I just might).
  2. The length
    For some reason beyond me, that seems to change every year. Last year, stepping into Le Primarche, you couldn’t breathe for elastic, long sleeve t-shirts long enough to be tucked into your pants (or draped over that awkward spot where sitting down in a low rise jeans will always be risky). This year? You’re one lucky digger if you find some which cover your belly button. And mine doesn’t like to be out in the wild.
    Also, totally fixable 🙂 I can have them loose fit and touch my belt buckle lengths, I can have them tunic lengths, or … well, you get it. Awesomesauce.

On to the next one. I added an inch to the body width, took the shoulders in a bit, lowered the shoulder seams a bit (keep in mind, the highly scientific method of obtaining this pattern was to draw around an existing one on brown paper), and added 1/2 inch to the width of the arms and armscye.

Voila:

Black roses front

Enough ease, but not too boxy. The body is actually a wee bit too long, but I could fix this easily.

The knit jersey fabric was part of my loot from Walthamstow Market, a trip inspired by Didyoumakethat, about which I’ll tell you more soon. So much now: it was brilliant.

Here’s the back of that t-shirt:

Black Roses back

I had to frankencut the sleeves, as the fabric was the end of the roll and they didn’t have enough left for me to cut the full t-shirt. That meant I had to use some stashed black jersey for the arms, which I think might have been a blessing in disguise and could well be what saves this top from looking like a Goth’s pajama (not that I’d have issues with that – I just want to be able to wear it in public …).

For future makes, I might play around with the shoulder width a bit more, I think it’s still a bit too wide, but for now, it totally works for me.

Elwing Calafalas – It’s done!

Time is a weird thing. I’ll never quite understand how a few hours can stretch into an eternity, and why the same three months can feel like a heartbeat for one thing and like an eternity for another.

This make felt like it was a long time in the making, but according to my blog (trusty friend) it didn’t take much longer than 3 months. Which, to be fair, isn’t that long for knitting a cardigan.

Either way, it’s done 🙂

Finished Elwing Calafalas

Overall, I’m very pleased with how this turned out. There are a few minor details that haven’t turned out exactly as planned. One of the sleeves is a bit wider at the wrist than the other, and I might have to think of a way to remedy that. Since there’s no way I’m going to frog and reknit it, however, I’m not quite sure how … maybe something will come to me.

The cardigan was knit as a top-down raglan, and I fitted as I went. Mostly that turned out great, even though the yarn stretched a bit more than expected when I blocked the cardi and it now has generous ease. Probably not a bad thing for layering in winter, tho.

I really like how the picot edging turned out. It was a lot of hand sewing, but I did become better at it and it does give a very nice finish. Now I think about it, the sleeve thing might be because I finished one of the sleeve edges before and one after I blocked – another lesson learned.

Buttons

After some deliberation, I decided to go for a button band with a one-stitch-twisted-rib stitch, and it turned out fine. Of course I sewed on one of the buttons in a slightly off distance to the others … which seems to be one of my favorites. I could fix that easily, but right now, I’m not bothered, so it stays.

The buttons came out of my (rather sizeable) stash of vintage buttons, and I think they go very well with the cardigan, adding to the somewhat rustic yet light feel of it.

The goal was a simple, somewhat traditional cardigan, and I think I met that goal. It has a weirdly bavarian touch to it, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing 🙂

It’s done!

Lo and behold – actual knitting!

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe other people are perfectly capable of maintaining a balance. Keep doing the repetitive tasks in their life at designated times, and hence be able to enjoy their spare time in an orderly manner.

Over here, things are of a more transient nature. One week, the focus is all on knitting socks (for any value where “week” == “more than a few hours”), the next ALL.THE.JEANS are calling out to me, and then maybe a round of knicker making. I try to fit the necessities somewhere in between my day job and those fanciful obsessions. Mostly, that works fairly well, but  it’s in the nature of the beast that things proceed on a less than even speed.

Elwing – button considerations

I could try and justify the slow progress on Elwing Calafalas by the summer, but you are well aware that we didn’t really have much of that, so it’d be a lie.

First I was distracted by the Caterpillar Cardigan. Then sewing took over. And then it dawned on me that it’s only 4 weeks until the next HUGE expansion in my favorite MMORPG will be released, and it will have mounted combat and horses you can train and I am 15 levels away from being able to do that. (Any of you playing Lord of the Rings Online?)

Taking a break

But despite all that, Elwing has been growing steadily, and at this point, all that’s left is a whole lot of hand sewing and the button bands. Or zippers. Soon as I make up my mind, I’ll let you know 😀

The hand sewing is because I decided against ribbed anything, and have done all borders in a picot edging which needs to be sewn down now.

Like this:

Elwing – pocket detail

And this:

Elwing – neck detail

And this, too:

Elwing – bottom edging

Now, my question for you – should I add some one-by-one ribbing and buttons, or should I apply this sort of picot facing to the front and add a zipper? I really, really can’t decide!