Thursday, 10 December 2015

Looooong time

I have a reminder set up to tell me when I haven't blogged for a while, and apparently it has been 45 years and 50 weeks since I last posted. I'm somewhat sceptical.

Life has been very busy over the last few months, and is finally settling down a bit now, just in time for Christmas/summer holiday madness. Since July we have:
  • bought a house
  • been pregnant
  • had a miscarriage
  • moved house
  • had 2 months of no phone or internet
  • got the boys settled into their new preschool and playcentre
  • organised a bunch of renovations
(When I write it in a list like that it doesn't look like all that much, but I guess some/most of those are biggies.) With any luck we shouldn't need to do anything else major any time soon.

As part of the moving process, I managed to break my sewing machine.  It was on my sewing desk, we moved the desk, and the cord caught on something and snapped the bracket that mounted the motor.  Thanks to my brother-in-law I now have a new bracket, but it triggered the purchase of a backup machine.  I got the better of the two Brother machines that the local Warehouse had, and it has been going very nicely so far.  There are definitely a few things that I didn't realise were features until I didn't have them (variable foot pressure, for one!), but for how much the new machine cost I'm not going to complain - and it is nice having some stretch stitches to play with too.

I have got a craft room set up now, and have made a board that is now covered in knitted swatches, it's nice being able to look at them for ideas!

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Things that have been happening

Rather a lot, really! We are well into house shopping mode now, which is taking a fair bit of time and energy, fingers crossed we're not too far off done now though. (We are planning to go to an auction this week, and have picked out a few other options if that doesn't go our way).

There is now a 2 year old in the house, who is incredibly good at saying no to everything, and he has stopped napping. It took a while, but the lack of naps now means he goes to bed by 8 instead of staying up past when I want to be asleep! Occasionally he even sleeps past 6am, but that can never be relied on, except to know that it won't happen when you most need it! He has been having a few gut-related issues over the last few months, so we have just moved him back to being gluten free (as well as the no dairy or soy). He had his first gluten free bread today, and he seemed pretty happy with it, which is a relief. At some point I will start experimenting with gluten free baking, assuming this actually helps resolve the things that aren't quite right.

I think I've done some knitting and sewing since I last posted, but with everything else that has been going on I've lost track of what I was doing then! I have definitely been doing some spinning recently, joining in with the Tour de Fleece. I have also made progress on my Christmas stocking, I have now finished the cross stitching around the heel, so just the rest of the foot and toe, then most of the backstitching left. With any luck that means I should have enough time to finish and sew up three stockings before Christmas.

My most recent knitting was a hat for little Mr 2, from some handspun (mostly spun in the TdF two years ago, just before he was born). He hasn't been convinced to wear it yet, of course, but I will keep working on it. It used just under half my skein, the rest is destined to be a little matching scarf.

A photo posted by Sonya (@stringherder) on

(I did manage to get the hat on to check for size before finishing it off, proof shown here. Note the knitting needles poking out on top of his head...)

Monday, 30 March 2015

In a sneaky naptime moment

Somehow I have managed to get two small children asleep at the same time, so I am trying to do too many things at once to make the most of it. (It's not actually entirely surprising, apparently having a ride in the pram after walking a mile, playing for a couple of hours, and visiting the library is somewhat sleep-inducing. Thankfully!).

I have started work on typing up my next shawl design. I have knit one prototype, but it is for the ravelry shawl exchange and I haven't sent it yet, so no photos. I want to change a few things to make it a bit closer to my original vision, so I will be knitting another one soon, in a completely different yarn. And then maybe another one in a heavier yarn...

I have also been participating in sock madness, and am nearly halfway through the second sock of the pair for this round. Unfortunately my hand is starting to complain a bit about too much sock knitting in too short a timeframe, so these may be my last socks for a while.

On the sewing front, I have just cut out a long sleeved shirt for the monkey, cut down from an old one. This is my first attempt at upcycling in this way - I have preserved the button bands and sleeve plackets, shortened the cuffs, and will work out how to use the collar mostly as-is when I get that far. I think with the effort I have put into doing all those things it would actually have been easier to do them all from scratch, but never mind. I have also just made some size 3 overalls, from a self drafted pattern. The basic block was roughly copied from a Burda pyjamas pattern, and tweaked a fair bit. There are a few changes I need to make, but I'm pretty happy for a first attempt, and there will be more in the future.

We bought a marble run in the weekend, and some junior meccano (bigger, with plastic screws). They have been a great hit so far, apart from the rule about having to pack up one before the other can come out!

Photos of everything to come. Eventually. Well, maybe not the toys...

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

What am I working on today?

Sock madness has started over on ravelry, so for the next week and a half I will be trying to finish a pair of socks. I cast on Monday night, and am not too far from starting the heel flap, so with any luck I will manage. This is the third year I have participated, in the past two years I didn't get past the first round. 

Yarn is hand dyed sock yarn from Creative Yarns in Tauranga, bought on holiday about 3 years ago.

I have also cut out two pairs of winter pyjamas for The Monkey, they've been added to my pile of stuff to sew as and when I get to them.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Seagull square

In making this square I learnt that sewing while tired is not a clever idea. I think I managed to invent a whole collection of new mistakes. As well sewing pieces with the wrong side out, and messing up placement so the patch didn't fully cover the area it needed to, I also managed to use the wrong colour a few times despite having the pattern clearly marked.

I gave up for that day after sewing a piece on the wrong way for the third time (wrong side up, out by 90°, any wrong way you can think of). I came back to it the next day to discover that actually I had it right after all!

Now I need to print out the some more birds and trace them, to see what I'm in for next. (I'm tracing the patterns onto lunch paper, because it is a bit thinner to sew through, and I didn't want to be worrying about printer ink on my iron).

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Back on the wagon: WIP Wednesday

I can't remember if I've shared any photos of the latest stocking project, but I have been slowly plodding away at it since the end of last year.  I'm finding it a bit difficult at time taking what I have finished and where the gaps that need to be filled in are, so I'm currently doing some of the backstitch as I go. That way I know that if it's backstitched then I have checked that all the gaps are meant to be there!

Sunday, 22 February 2015

More sewing (and a bit of knitting)

I have been sewing some more over the last week, and actually come out with something wearable. I redrafted the top front piece of the Lekala top pattern, and ended up with this:

The fit is much better (and the fabric is also nicer). There is still room for improvement, in that the shape of the seam at between the top and bottom front pieces is a little off, and the pleats need to move towards the sides a little more, but overall I'm pretty happy with it.

I also experimented with another bra, from a heavy woven linen. The end result isn't really wearable, but it has highlighted issues I had with the fit (which were also present in the first one, but somewhat hidden by the nature of the knit fabrics). Overall I think I need the front to be wider, but with a smaller band size. My next plan is to use the same pattern for the cup, use the next sister size up (up a band size, down a cup size so the cup fits in) for the cradle, and then tweak the back band so that it fits as the next band size down would. I have no idea what fabrics I will use, I will see what I have on hand that seems appropriate and keep stealing hardware off old bras.

I have also been knitting away on my shawl for the Ravelry Worldwide Shawl Exchange, and am now about 2/3rds done. I have just finished the second chart, just the last section to go (around 40 long, long, rows). I have now reached the stage where I am oscillating between being excited to see how it will turn out, and being bored with the long rows - pretty normal for me when it comes to triangular shawls!

Thursday, 12 February 2015


The swift is done!

(The colours are much more accurate in this photo than in the last block)

I think this went together more smoothly than last time, although it is a little wonky on one edge. I'm happy to fudge that if/when required in piecing the birds together, whatever I end up doing with them. I didn't bother starching, and still had less trouble with the fabrics not being particularly firm, so I'm assuming that having some idea about that going in made a bit of a difference. I definitely got better at judging where to put the pieces of fabric to get them to cover their allocated area properly. And I only sewed one piece in wrong-side out!

I did end up with a couple of places where I misjudged and ended up with a little bit of selvedge showing, but I'm not too worried about it, and am willing to call it a learning experience. (Or, I didn't have the heart to undo more seams...)

I ran out of bobbin thread on the second to last seam, so I just grabbed a darker blue that I had handy, which seems to have worked out okay. I need to do some other sewing before I start on the next block, but I'm not sure what will be up next. At least I have an empty bobbin if I choose something I don't already have thread wound for.

One thing I'm not quite sure about with this paper piecing is when I should be removing the paper. I haven't taken any out, and I'm thinking it will probably be okay to leave in until the whatever-it-is is assembled. I think with the twill fabrics having the paper in for stability for as long as possible is probably a good plan. Does anyone out there have any advice for me on that?

Friday, 6 February 2015

Experimenting with knits

A few months ago I was introduced to Lekala patterns.  I like the concept of made-to-measure patterns, so thought I'd see what they were actually like to use.  For a trial run I looked through their free patterns and picked out a knit top (8004) to see how it would work for me.

I did ignore some of the assembly instructions, mainly regarding finishing the neckline.  I was a little unclear on what they actually meant in a couple of places too, but had enough sewing experience to make it up as I went along.  The fabric I used was some cheap stretch mystery fabric I got from Kutwells some number of years ago.  It wouldn't be my first choice now, but perfectly adequate for a pattern test!

I couldn't find my clear elastic this morning so I stabilised the neckline with bias binding.  I suspect there are many better options, but this was easy and I had it on hand. I still need to finish trimming the neck hem.

The pattern could fit a little better - there isn't really enough room vertically through the bust, so the underbust seam rides up, or if I tug it down the neckline is quite low.  The front pleats are also not placed right for me (but I accept that I may have done something weird there).  I have just read some reviews that indicate that this is a known issue, although I may have guessed wrong on some of the optional adjustment measurements. I don't feel particularly inclined to get a new version of the pattern to test that theory though, I will just think about altering what I have. I don't know if I will make it again, although I am thinking it may adapt nicely into a light summer dress. I also have a bunch of merino knit that I got ridiculously cheap from Fabric Vision last year...

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Cat hat

The monkey has a cat hat that has gone astray at preschool a couple of times (but has been found each time so far), but after the last time he commented that I should make a cat hat for the changeling too.  Conveniently (or inconveniently, depending on your viewpoint) I have recently lost the helicopter hat that he had been wearing.  It never quite fitted right, so I redrafted the pattern.  I only had enough of the cat fabric for 3 panels, so I alternated it with a light brown cotton, which I also used for the lining. 

The shape is still not quite right, and he is nearly ready to move up to the next size anyway, but this was a nice quick project to whip up and feel like I'd made something useful!
I still need to attach elastic, and a button on the top, but it is at least wearable in the back yard at the moment. I guess I will try to get it properly finished in time for him to wear it to playcentre on Thursday.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

First patchwork

Well, I have learnt a few things about paper piecing, and probably patchwork in general! I have now successfully constructed my first block, although I did have to unpick the occasional seam because I failed to position my piece of fabric correctly (or up the right way a couple of times...). I'm happy with the end result for a first attempt.

My fabric choice wasn't the best for novice paper piecing, the background is a sateen and the foreground is a fine wool blend houndstooth. I think using a tabby weave for both would have made things easier. I will continue with another block with the same fabrics, but I may try giving them a liberal dose of starch first.

Friday, 16 January 2015

New project required? Really?

Ever since I first came across her work, I have loved Juliet's patterns for paper pieced quilt blocks. I have never done any paper piecing, or even really any patchwork, but I have finally given in and decided to jump in with both feet on her latest project - the In Flight Quilt-Along. I have admired her native birds from afar, but something about the birds in flight was just too tempting.

Before deciding to go for it I did at least check my fabric pile, and decided that I have plenty of options of fabric that I'm willing to use in the stash. The background is going to be a dark blue sateen that I originally bought with the idea of eventually using it for an unpieced quilt. I'm not sure yet whether the birds will all be one colour (either a white/grey wool blend, or an old pale blue sheet), or a mix of colours. At the moment I'm leaning towards starting with the wool.

I would have given in to the temptation to start already, but I need to get some more ink for the printer first. Also, I really should finish the two shirts that are currently sitting next to the machine partially done...

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

New year, new place

And so we are back in the land of summer. A bit of a change, but I think two days in Singapore definitely helped with the transition. Sleep is now pretty much normal, enough so that we put the bunks up in the weekend and Mr. 3 slept in the top bunk last night, which went surprisingly smoothly.

I have picked up where I left off with cataloguing our book collection, which is much easier now that the changeling will play independently while I work on it, at least for one or two boxes at a time. I think there are only 10 boxes left to go, plus finding any new kids books that have been missed.

I am taking part in the Ravelry Worldwide Shawl Exchange again, I think it has been over two years since the last one I did. Partners have just been assigned, now comes the fun of deciding on what to make. My partner doesn't like blue, and prefers not to have pure wool, which rules out most of my stash! (I didn't realise how much blue wool I had - I think I tend to pick greens more, but then I will also knit the greens first).

I have also decided this is the year of sewing, or at least some of it. My wardrobe has been getting pretty sad, I took pretty much everything I had that fitted and wasn't falling apart to Prague, and a lot of that is now dying. I brought it back, but only because otherwise I really would have nothing to wear! I have a few garments I want to recreate, or at least be inspired by. The first sewing of the year is a bra which is mostly finished now, just some finishing details left. I will write another post about that when it is done, including a few pattern notes. I have also started making two new summer shirts for the monkey (size 2, he is a skinny boy). Next in line is a new skirt for me, and after that I haven't decided. If I can get rid of all the clothing I have that is in terrible condition because it has been replaced with something better I will be incredibly happy.