Sunday, August 10, 2014

Sunday 10 August 2014

When the kids were younger, I used to sew a lot for them. I even did a pattern drafting course while I was at university, and used to draft my own patterns because they were both tall and skinny.

But the day inevitably came when they weren't that keen on hand-sewn things anymore. It actually coincided with the time I was knitting and crocheting more and I didn't really miss sewing for them all that much.

I've kept some of the more treasured clothes, but the rest went to charity shops and the women's refuge, and I thought my days of sewing for them were over until maybe one day I become a grandmother. But then I sewed my skirt a couple of weeks ago, and when I'd half finished it and showed it to 15yo, she loved it straightaway and immediately asked if I could make her one.

Feeling very flattered, of course, I let her choose some fabrics at Crafty Baba and let her choose a pattern for a top - figuring if it was all her own choice, she'd be more likely to like it and wear it.

It was an easy pattern but good fun to make and a good one to get my confidence back. It's supposed to be worn over a skirt or pair of trousers and she's wearing it tucked in, which means it looks a bit rucked up, but it fits her pretty well - with hindsight, it probably could have been a size smaller but she's still a very small grown-up size.

I really enjoyed making it, she wore it all day yesterday and says she likes it. I just hope she isn't saying that in order not to hurt my feelings, but the proof will be in how often she wears it in the future! In the meantime, I've already cut out a skirt for her. My sewing enthusiasm is definitely back!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Sunday 3 August 2014

On my many bike rides, I often come across war memorials in villages. I usually stop and look at them for a while. The names and ages are always so poignant, brothers or fathers and sons not returning, or very young men - more often than not, barely grown up.
With my bike rides, I tend to try and go further and further afield, exploring where I've not been before. I sometimes forget we have a beautiful church of our own, both at my own home near Bury St. Edmunds and  B's home in Norfolk. And I hadn't realised at all that my village didn't actually have a war memorial. It was only a few years ago, back in 2011, that we finally got a village sign. My village is sliced in two by the very busy A134, where not many motorists stick to the 40mph speed limit, and it stops the village being a tight-knit community, sadly. The village sign was several years in the making but the unveiling ceremony was a nice occasion with lots of villagers getting together and finally getting to know each other.

Our local Neighbourhood Watch coordinator is also on the parish council and set out to organise a war memorial for the 8 men who lost their lives during the two world wars - 4 in each war. And last Saturday, to coincide with the centenary of the outbreak of WW1, the memorial was unveiled.

It was a moving occasion, with relatives of 5 of the men attending and laying wreaths. Someone even travelled from Oman to be there!

I was specially proud because 15yo read out a poem at the end of the ceremony. Originally 12yo was going to do it, but as the days went on, he became more and more reluctant. On the day itself he just refused. I think the thought of lots of people and camera crews being there was just a bit too much. 15yo stepped in and read the poem calmly, clearly and beautifully. I am mostly proud of how mature her response was - she is growing up fast.

The British and the Dutch experienced war in a different way. The British had their men going off to fight. 15yo and 12yo's great-grandfather fought during the liberation of Europe in WW2, and most of their friends will have a grandfather or great-grandfather who fought in the war. The Dutch had their country occupied by the Germans. Countless families disappeared, taken to concentration camps, never returned. The Dutch owe their freedom to the Brits, the Canadians and the Americans. Which is why for me it is so important to recognise the sacrifice these men made, and to remember all who have suffered.

I am pleased we have a war memorial. These men deserve to be remembered.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Several years after everybody knitted a Hitchhiker Scarf, it's finally my turn. Yarn is very very soft and fuzzy and was a present from my friend Mandie. Even though a Hitchhiker is supposed to have 42 points, I'm going to knit 43 as that is how old I am at the moment! Not really a Hitchhiker anymore then, I do realise that... It's the perfect TV knitting project. Not that we're watching much telly at the moment as the remote control for the freeview box has given up the ghost and now the telly is stuck on Radio 4. I guess it could have been worse, like Dave or Channel Five.

In the background a pile of fabrics from Crafty Baba for new sewing projects: top fabric is for a sleeveless top for 15yo, middle fabric is for a skirt for me, and bottom fabric is for a skirt for 15yo, who liked mine so much, she wants one of her own. She'd better wear it, because she's two sizes smaller than me so if she ends up not liking it, I can't wear it myself!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Monday 28 July 2014

In the past I used to sew a lot. I've always liked making things, learning to knit at a very young age, making dolls' clothes, then moving onto baby things. I always hoped to have children one day and couldn't think of anything nicer than to make them cute baby outfits. In fact, I had several outfits ready long before children were even a possibility. I have vivid memories of having just done a pregnancy test, going on holidays to France and knitting a cotton baby sweater in the car and not feeling sick - whereas normally I feel travel sick very quickly. 'I must be pregnant if I can knit in the car', I said to J., and 9 months later 15yo was born. I also remember a holiday in Lyme Regis where both kids wore something handmade every day, and feeling very proud of that.

I was very lucky in that my bedroom has a corner which is so narrow, it's pretty unusable for bedroom purposes, so to speak. J. turned it into a sewing corner years ago, where I can leave my machines up all the time. But as the kids became toddlers, it got harder and harder to spend time up there without one of them joining me and wanting to push all the buttons and taking all the pins out of the pincushion, and neither of them really ever enjoyed sorting my button collection.
Which is when I got back into knitting and crochet, because it was something I could do while watching them play, and pick up and put down as needed. And then I discovered I could take my knitting with me when out and about, and sewing started to take a back seat. My sewing machine, my overlocker, my embroidery machine and my fabric stash, they all started to gather dust.

But I still have a subscription to a Dutch sewing magazine, which arrives monthly with about 20 different patterns. And I'd look through it and think 'that would be nice to sew, and that would be nice to wear'. So occasionally, every so often, I trace a pattern and pin it to some fabric, and then I sit behind the sewing machine and find I've totally lost my confidence. Every time I get to a tricky bit - a zip, inserting the sleeves, making buttonholes - I stall. I leave the project for a few weeks until I finally kick myself up the backside and get on with it (and more often than not, it wasn't nearly as scary as I expected).

This project was a dream almost from start to finish. I only struggled a little with the pockets, but sorted it by leaving a detail out, and to be honest, the fabric design is so busy that it really wouldn't have added anything to it anyway. The rest of it went together so easily and so well, and then it fitted ever so well too. I finished it in time to wear to my crochet class and then lunch afterwards with some other Crafty Baba members on Saturday, so I could show it off (the fabric is from Crafty Baba - looks very much like a Liberty but it isn't, although it definitely feels like it!). It's such a big hit, that 15yo has even asked for one for herself. Now that's a compliment if ever I had one!

There is already an order for more fabric on its way to Crafty Baba for the next few sewing projects. I think the bug has really bitten again!

PS Excuse the squinting into the sun (it was either that or rapeseed stalks as background) and excuse the mosquito bites, which are from last weekend at Latitude.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Monday 7 July 2014

This year's ladies' tractor road run had

145 pink ladies

Hot pink crochet hot pants (just how many dodgy visitors is this blog going to get now?)

A new tractor partner (Fran from Cry Mamma)

Rain for the first time. Proper rain.
New tractors. Very new tractors!

New marshalls and keen supporters

Waiting for help after a 'break down'... (user error!)

Laughter, lots and lots of it

Pride at completing another road run

Money from complete strangers

Picnic in the sunshine with good friends


And above all, gratitude.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Tuesday 13 May

Right, well, the blog every day in May didn't happen this year. I very much enjoyed it last year, but since then, we regularly have 'no screen' days at home. This is as much for me as it is for the kids. 12yo, who is a very active child and rarely sits still, has discovered Minecraft in the last year and would happily spend days behind the computer. 15yo is never far from her mobile, like most other teenagers. I find myself sometimes wasting away an evening just browsing, but for no real reason. A waste of time indeed, so now we have two days a week and one weekend day without computers. It leaves even less time for blogging, but so be it. I'd rather make and then blog less frequently but blog about those makes!

Which leads me nicely on to this

This is my Coal cardigan by Veronik Avery. I may have shown a progress picture before - I'm too lazy to go back and check!
As soon as I saw the pattern, in one of Brooklyn Tweed's pattern collections, I was smitten. I usually like most of Brooklyn Tweed's patterns, he's my favourite designer by far. It's not just the designs, it's the photography and oh, alright, he's pretty easy on the eye too!

Having in the past tried to knit garments with a cheaper yarn substitute and never really turning out how I had hoped, I decided a few months ago that if I was going to make something larger, I'd spend a bit of money on it too. So at my last Knitting and Stitching show I went to Shilasdair, whose yarn I've used before and who don't seem to be able to get any colour wrong, and got some dyelot ends for half price. The colour was called Moss and is mostly green, but has hints of blue and even yellow. It's a colour that you'd never get bored with. All their colours are dyed with natural dyes, and I seem to like every single one of them, even ones I'd not normally go for.

A favourite designer coupled with a favourite yarn seller = favourite cardigan. The only thing I didn't like about this, but that really is a very small point, is that it had to be sewn up afterwards. Apart from that it rapidly turned into my favourite cardigan - in fact, I'm wearing it now. It fits well, it's comfortable, it's warm and I've been told it really suits me. A real winner!

For my birthday back in December Zoe, who runs the craft school that I teach crochet classes for, gave me a book wrapped in some of her fabrics (she also has a very successful online fabric shop, worth a look!). I wanted to make something with it and suddenly remembered that I had some floral corduroy in my stash - actually, it had been there for years because I'd earmarked it for a skirt for 15yo... and she hasn't worn corduroy skirts for years :-) Anyway, I turned it into a little bag and just happened to have the right colours cotton yarn in my other stash and made a little flower to go on top. It's only a small bag and apart from keeping my WW journal and other paraphernalia in it, I'm not sure what else I'd use it for, but it does make me smile.

(And as a cheeky aside, I'm teaching a crochet class soon where we'll be doing flowers...)

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Thursday 1 May

Today is supposed to be my first post for Blog Every Day in May, which I did last year and enjoyed very much. But I've been at work all day, had two nightmares of a commute, have a slightly sore throat and a headache, and a crochet class on Saturday while I still have a full day of work tomorrow plus a concert to go to in the evening. So I hope you'll forgive me if I'm skipping the subject for today (might return to this subject later on in the month if another subject doesn't inspire me) and I go off for a shower and an early night.

Hope to be back tomorrow - and every day for the month of May!