Sunday, 14 September 2014

Back To School

I have been very busy lately, adjusting to my new life of being a student again.  I'm doing my teacher training to be a Computer Science teacher in Secondary Education.  As it is a postgraduate course, I hit the ground running.  There is tons of reading, assignments, lectures, observations and countless other stuff.

It has been a whirlwind and I'm trying my best to maintain some kind of work/life balance thing.  Of course, this is no easy task as it's hard to know when to stop, how much to do, etc.   However, yesterday I was very focused and spent the entire afternoon doing subject based knowledge revision so tomorrow I only have to modify/update/proof-read my final version of my coursework that is due on Tuesday.

Which means today I have a FREE day!  Woo hoo!  I'm actually very excited about this.  A guilt free day to indulge myself however I see fit.  I am going to go out shortly with my son for a long walk, possibly to Salts Mill.  Salts Mill is definitely one of my favourite places in Yorkshire.
Books, books, books!
Hopefully, I'll have a bit more free time to do some sewing as well.  I had a sewing frenzy two weeks ago and completed two nice tops as well.  I need to post images of those but every time I remember this, one of them is in the laundry basket or the ironing pile.  I promise to post pictures of those very soon.

I also want to watch the Matthew Collings show on Abstract Art on the iplayer later today. I find what Matthew Collings has to say about Abstract Act absolutely fascinating.  It is so hard to believe that art was once so influential and had such an impact on society.  Today we seem to be immune to the messages of art or numb or something.  It makes me sad as I find art so inspiring, it leads me to different paths and trains of thought in how I feel about life and myself.  Art should never be ignored.

Monday, 18 August 2014


Last week, I went to the Hepworth Museum in Wakefield with my son.  I wasn't overly impressed (beautiful building with mediocre exhibitions) and we both saw everything there was to see in 45 minutes so we decided not to eat in the cafe there (who pays £8 for a BLT sandwich???) and go to Leeds instead...especially since it was on our way home.

It turned out to be a worthwhile trip as we had a super cheap lunch for £4 for the both of us and I got some lovely fabric for £6!  It wasn't enough for anything big and exciting but just enough to make a sweet little top.  Here are the results below:
Lovely soft cotton
It only took me a day to make, in between various jobs around the house (heaven forbid I stay focused on one activity at one time...that just seems to be beyond me.  I get so easily distracted.) I'm pleased with the results.  I hate tight fitting clothes on me but equally, I have this fear of things looking like tents on me.  Yes, I'm closer to fifty but that doesn't mean I have to wear clothes that make me look shapeless and without any personality!  I'm starting to gain more confidence with modifying patterns to suit me more.  A nip here, a tuck here, etc.  It's been a process but a worthwhile one.  I have another top I'm making and will, hopefully, finish today.  Then I can post those results as well.

I've been looking on pinterest for sewing and knitting inspiration as well as tumblr.  I have to say I like the look of tumblr better than pinterest but pinterest wins hands down for dress inspiration.  I found a wonderful clothing designer with lovely timeless dresses in Liberty fabrics and my head was spinning with ideas for clothes for the Autumn.  I really need to be on the ball for the Autumn.  I keep reading up on my dress code and course expectations and I really, really, really do not want to be in bland, awful, dull clothes but still look smart!  I want colour, I want timeless, I want dresses, not plain black trousers, black cardigans and plain shirts.  Oh my.  I do have a lot of work to do, don't I?

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Finished Dresses

As promised, two photos of the finished dresses.  Both are pink flowers.  One is a lightweight fabric and the other one is a sturdy cotton.  I added belts to both of them to stop them looking like tents.

For your viewing pleasure, I give you dress number one:
Yes, I make a rare appearance in this photo
And now for the second dress (minus me):
A pale pink but heavy sturdy cotton.
I have to say I like the second one better than the first.  I think that mainly because the second one the fabric is a good quality cotton while the first one, I'm not sure what the material is but it is very lightweight and feels flimsy in comparison.  I'm sure that both will grow on me.  I'm getting there with my hand made wardrobe...slowly but surely!

Sewing Project Update

I've been busy with life and sewing.  I'm currently in the process of making some dresses for the Autumn.  I spent time researching and looking for a dress pattern that I would like and finally bought what I thought was the best pattern.  However, there is still a lot of trial and error going on with the sewing process.

The first dress I have made is with some fabric my mum bought me from Liberty.  She says its a cotton but it has a strange silky feel to it and I can't find it any where on Liberty's website to verify what it is.  I did wash it first before sewing as it stank heavily of perfume!  The fabric is a little too light and floaty and creases incredibly easily.  I still have the edging to do on the little capped sleeves and make a belt for it.  I took it in yesterday to stop it looking tent-like but it still seems that bit too wide.  I need to find a balance between it looking too floaty and clinging to the wrong parts of my body.  We don't need to emphasize some aspects of growing older!

The second dress is made of cotton, 100% woven cotton.  This dress already feels much nicer and since the cotton has some weight, it hangs much better.  I only have the sleeves left to do on this dress.  Both dresses are actually pink flowers.  I am not normally a pink person, I'm trying to step outside my comfort zone and have more of a variety of clothes in my wardrobe.  We'll see.  I prefer my blues and greens.  This said, my next dress will be a pale blue with Paisleys.  I think this dress will have more of an appeal to me.  Who knows?

But for now, there are no pictures as they are works in progress.  But I promise to post them as soon as the dresses are finished.  It won't be long now as I spent all of yesterday sewing and plan to continue today.  The weather forecast is wet and overcast with grey skies so it is always encouraging to do my sewing.  Also, my other half has taken the PS3 down to London with him while visiting his family!  Noooo!  I was playing "Dishonoured" and loving yeah, no distractions so I am being on the ball with my sewing.  Of course, you all knew that there had to be some hidden factor behind this sudden burst of "motivation", didn't you?  You know me all too well.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Bags and Fun

I finally finished work for the summer last week.  It was, without a doubt, one of the best weeks I've had in a seriously long time.  I had a friend visiting from the States.  I haven't seen her in 25 years!  She's currently touring around Europe and I was on her list of people and places to visit.  I was hugely flattered she took time out to visit me.

She was sick of cities so we went on day trips out to surrounding towns and little villages.  We went to Saltaire, Hebden Bridge and Heptonstall.  The weather was gloriously sunny and warm.  It was fabulous to catch up with everything that has passed over the long period of time.  I knitted her a lace scarf on her visit as well.  I really should have taken photos of it but I completely forgot.

However, I have some photos to share with you of a finished project that was a collaboration between me and my other half.  Its a bag for a friend in the States:
The exterior shot
The interior with pockets and lining
Isn't it sweet? I'm also working on a light weight summer cardigan but I'll save that for later.  Hope your summer is as lovely as mine has been.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Cranberry Cardigan Update!

Sometimes life gets busy and its that routine and work and home and other commitments.  The positive thing is my son has finally finished his GCSE exams, all 24 of them.  It meant endless days of revision with me asking him questions from his revision guides, going through past papers and trying to be supportive.  But its finished and he is home for the summer, just relaxing.

Now that he has cardigan is nearly complete.  Here it is with the front and backs attached:
Hey, hey its taking shape.
And here's a shot of it with the sleeves attached:
Nearly there!
There's still blocking to do and the button to add on top but yes, its nearly complete.  Obviously, I would not wear this fitted cardigan with the clothes I'm wearing in the pictures.  They just happen to be the clothes I was wearing at the time when I took these photos.  I have plans to make two dresses to compliment this cardigan and I have two tops that would go nicely with this cardigan.  

I also need to write the pattern out and post it to raverly as its my own pattern.  Yup, I designed this cardigan myself.  I promise more artistic and better pictures when its complete.  But I'm pleased with it immensely.  Next project is well, I haven't decided the truth be told.  Stay tuned.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Patience and GCSEs

My son is currently in the thick of his GCSE exams.  He has 24 in total and 8 more to go. That's two and a bit weeks of me having to have endless patience and pretend to be super mum.  I don't really feel like that at the moment.  I have no free time, no patience, no personal space and yes, I'm super cranky at times.  Yes, its good that he wants me to help him with his revision but its just relentless and never ending.

Today, in between doing endless marking and helping the teenager with GCSE non-calculator maths revision, I've been trying to crack on with my sleeves for the on-going/never ending cardigan.  I've had to pull one side of my fronts back to the first butterfly because its clearly too taxing on my brain to count to one to five.  It was obviously just too do I manage such glaringly OBVIOUS mistakes??? Where is the mind?  I ask 48, I really just take a deep breath and relax.

Well, here's a photo for your amusement of the two fronts so far:
"life is like a butterfly"
It looks rather tiny but it won't be.  I still need to add the ribbing on the side and block it and add it to my beautiful back.  I'm on sleeve one.  As I've finished watching "The Story of Women in Art" on the bbc iplayer, I'll have to find something else to inspire me now.  Like the thought of not working in 6 and a half weeks for the remaining summer or that my son will finish his GCSEs soon...or that I am having my dinner made for me tonight by my wonderful other half.  Hope all's well for all of you.

Patience and a Piece of String

I would like to say that I would have more patience than I do these days but seriously, right now, no...that is not the case.  My son is in the thick of GCSE exams and I have no peace, no personal space, no free time that is truly my own.  He wants me to ask him questions, go through past papers with him, mark them and help him with things he doesn't understand...its constant and never ending.  Yes, I'm glad that he is trying his best but truthfully, we are both exhausted and I have painted the room blue with colourful language some days.

In between helping him with exams, I've been knitting.  I've finally finished my two fronts, backs and am currently doing the sleeves.  I had to unpick one second back to the first butterfly as there was two glaring mistakes I could not ignore no matter what and also, I did one butterfly too many...because obviously at 48, I'm incapable of counting correctly when there is 5 butterflies on one side. Its clearly too much on this taxing mind. What an idiot I can be.  I still have a LOT to do.  Blocking, adding the ribbing, etc.  But here's my fronts:
Yes, those are butterflies.
Yes, the very tops don't match exactly but it was the best I could do with the decreasing and following the pattern.  Its from my own pattern so fingers crossed...I've never knitted a cardigan from a pattern I've made myself.  Maybe I should put the pattern on raverly when I'm done.  I guess it depends upon how it looks and IF I can remember exactly what I did.

I have some fabric to make a dress but that is not going to happen this weekend.  Aw will happen when it happens.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Two New Dresses

I'm hoping that the weather will be reasonable enough to wear two new dresses I made this past week.  I can hope.  They are both 100% cotton and from the Stylish Dress Book, one of my Japanese pattern books.  I got the book from Salts Mill and I've made two tops from it last summer.  I made them "large" even though, I'm hardly what I'd call a large person.

First off, the blue flower dress:
Pretty blue flowers
This dress should have been so simple to make but the neckline caused me no end of grief.  I kept getting confused which way to put the pieces and I had to unpick the neckline twice.   The original pattern called for five pleats in front but I opted for a gathered neckline instead.  I'm glad I did.  It hangs much nicer this way.

The second dress is fabric my son picked out.  Its a box style dress.  If I was to make it again, I'd make it a little smaller but live and learn.  Here's a picture of the end result:
It has two pockets on the front as well.
I figure I could actually wear this in slightly cooler weather with some tights and a long sleeve t-shirt underneath.  I'll probably wear this on weekends and when I'm not working.  Remember, stupid dress codes and other people's ideas about what you should and shouldn't wear.  I might be accused of having too much fun in this dress.  Enough of my whining.  Two dresses completed.  Oh how I love time off from work!

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Digging and Thinking

Yesterday it was actually sunny out.  A much needed sunny day to get me out of that dark hole that is my mind.  Sunday I ended up being one of those tedious moods where it just rained, the whole house felt damp and with that, my mood was definitely damp, cranky and impatient with myself, my life and especially, the weather.  I don't mind one day of rain that I'm happy to stay in and do my knitting or sewing but when it goes on and on...well, I feel like I'm climbing the walls quite literally.

So the young man and I went out for a blissful walk to clear our heads.  We found a £5 note on our travels so our drinks and chocolate brownies cost £1.20.  Always a bonus when you live on a tight budget.  When we got home, he settled down in a better mindset for revision, while I finally got stuck in with the garden.  I cut the grass, pruned some bushes back, weeded the garden and tidied up the edging.  Here are the results:
I spent hours doing this but you wouldn't think to look at it now

It looks much tidier but in need of more colour.
I want to get some snapdragons or something...something to brighten it up a bit.  Anything would be an improvement.  This year I said no to sweet peas.  Every year my parents get me some and its this search of find some suitable sticks to tie them to and then I lost interest in looking after them.  I prefer my old house and its brighter garden.  This one has too many trees over looking it and its ALWAYS dark.

Today, the young man and I went out for lunch with my parents.  It was enjoyable and afterwards, they went home and we went out browsing.  I got fabric to make something else.  Just as well because yet more rain is forecast for tomorrow.  Because clearly we haven't had enough of it this year.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Lace Borders

The weather in the UK has been typical for a Bank Holiday weekend.  Cold, wet and dark.  It is pretty miserable to say the least.  However, being indoors has allowed me to crack on with on-going projects.  When I say on-going, I mean ones that are taking longer than they should.  I don't really know why this is anything new.  It happens in life.  I have all these ideas and inspired ideas and then I come home from work...drained, lifeless and unmotivated.  Ugh.  I really need to kick that habit.

However, I've had a few days this week where I've been knitting while watching telly on a night and cracking on with my projects.  So work is actually progressing and MOVING forward.  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and I feel that inner peace again.  Yes, yes and yes.  I need that.  I'm tired of feeling like its just work and home and just that blah feeling from life.  That feeling where you are not feeling content within yourself.  Just restless and unsettled...but nothing you can put your finger on.  I hate those times. 

So here is one nearly completed side of my cardigan.  I'm being ambitious (for me) and knitting a lace border.  This side has NO mistakes...unlike the first side which has one or two and I'm seriously thinking about unpicking it back to those mistakes now.  Before I was going to leave it...but will bug me if I leave them now.  So, for your viewing pleasure:
One side of a cardigan.
This is not normally a colour I'd normally wear but I'm trying to step outside my "comfort zone" with regards to colour.  I think for the past few years, I have to conform to a dress code at work and my sense of style went completely out of the window.  I can't even begin to tell you how sick I am of my work wardrobe.  Its drab and makes me feel older than I am.  Enough of that crap.  So what if I'm getting older, we all are.  I can still have my sense of style and individuality.  Clothes can be beautiful and make you feel good about yourself.  I don't have to resign myself to cream blouses and black trousers for work, do I?  I hope not...

Friday, 16 May 2014

Mad Hatters

My son is currently doing his GCSE exams as he is in Year 11 at school.  This leaves me very little time these days as life seems to be that cycle of work/home/revision and little else.  I've been helping him by asking him questions from his revision guides and going through past papers with him.  Also, I've been having some very odd dreams lately and waking up feeling slightly unsettled and uneasy.  Fun times indeed.

However, today, I'm not feeling 100%.(Just in need of a decent night's sleep...)  So, everything has been put on the back burner and I have spent time just reading blogs and finding things to inspire me.  As you know, I love the idea of handmade and handcrafted things.  I do like the quirky, the unusual, unique items.  I often feel so confined by work and dress codes and how I'm expected to behave all the time.  I have times when I feel like I'm suffocating by all the formality of daily life.  Which is why I had to share this man with you.

He makes hats.  Wonderful, quirky, unique hats.  You must watch his video on his home page here and yes, feel human again. 

Friday, 2 May 2014

Made Me May

I didn't know this as I'm always a bit slow on trends, events, fashions, etc. but its "Made Me May" month.  I found out about it in Ysolda's blog and read more about it here.  I had no idea but anyway, I decided this week to dress in something I made at least three days a week.  And you know what?  I did it.

On Monday, I wore my mandarin shirt.  Tuesday, I wore my paisley and roses shirt and Thursday, I wore my olive green cardigan.  Tomorrow, I will wear my owl top or something else.  I still have great lengths to go with regards to producing my handmade wardrobe but its a three day weekend so time to sew a dress!

I have great ideas for this dress I want to make.  I've been looking at Pinterest for ideas.  One of the things, oh it pains my heart....that I actually fell in love with was this tunic dress.  Lisette 2245.  Oh its so my style but sadly out of print!  NOOOOO!!!!  I even discovered a pinterest board with admirers of this dress.

Oh how I wish for this:
Tunic Perfection could such an unique and timeless pattern as that be out of print?  Its a real shame.  I even looked on ebay.  Yup.  Still, more pictures to come of more sewing inspired ideas and a some works in progress knit-wise.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Cream, short sleeved top

I spent most of Saturday and a little bit of Sunday sewing another top for myself. This one doe not have the mandarin collar but just a simple round neckline. I was supposed to put some lace around the sleeves and the bottom of the shirt but I think it would have looked too busy. Also, I only had bit of one cream lace in the house and I didn't really want to venture out just for a bit of lace.

Here are the results:
I decided against the lace in the end but it looks fine.

I have been enjoying this creative time sewing tops but now I need to focus on skirts and dresses. I have 2 lots of fabric left. Actually 3 lots of fabric. I have one pink one with lots of flowers, a blue and green flower one and finally an olive green one with leaves and vine patterns on it. Decisions, decisions, decisions.

I have found it very therapeutic sewing as of lately. I've been very careful with my sewing and making sure to iron pieces to get a neater finished top. It has been working. While I sew, I find I stop beating myself up about life in general. I feel just calm. Isn't that what everyone needs?

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Mandarin Shirt Completed.

My most recent top did prove to be a challenge.  It is a pleated short sleeved short with a mandarin collar.  I am actually very pleased with the results.  Here is a close of the collar.  I don't think the picture actually does it justice.
Close up of the collar
The fabric in the photo makes the fabric look darker than it is.  It is actually a dark blue.  I had to hand sew the inside of the collar and make it with invisible seams.  It took time but it was worthwhile. 

Here is a picture of me in the shirt. 
Finished Top.
It is a very flattering cut on me, well, that's my opinion.  Its always hard to decide what I should be wearing at my age.  When I was young, I just wore what I liked, there wasn't always all those questions such as "Does that suit my shape?", "Is this age appropriate?", etc.  Those things happen with time.  You think as you get older, you become less preoccupied with how you look but you just find you have different issues.  Such is life.

I have some cream fabric with little pink, green and blue spools of thread on it.  It is very sweet indeed and very much me.  I'm debating what to make with it.  Another mandarin top?  A three quarter sleeved blouse?  A tunic top?  Decisions, decisions, decisions.

This time off from work has been very constructive this time.  I have had the opportunity to see old friends, spend time with family and sew.  Normally I return to work after a break thinking I didn't use my time as productive as I could have.  However, I realised that this time, I really need to knuckle down and get on with things.  I just feel so much more at peace with myself.  I need to do this more often!


Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Cost Effective and Long Overdue Update

One of my friends recently asked me an interesting question about my sewing. I was sat across from her and I was feeling pleased with a top that I sewed the other week. I told her I made this top and then she asked me if sewing was cost effective. That was it, no other questions, just that. Was sewing cost effective?

Now, that's a tricky question because it is all relative with regards to what some people consider cost effective and what isn't. How do you measure cost effective? Price of materials? Time spent sewing? Quality of items made? What specifically? Also, other questions such as it depends upon how much money people spend on clothes, what they consider to be quality and how important are clothes to them? Do they spend hours looking for the “perfect piece” or just buy something cheap and cheerful but disposable?
Olive green cardigan.  Isn't it sweet?

First off, sure I could actually buy myself a mass produced, cheap generic top from certain stores for cheaper but is that what I want? The answer to that is no. I have realised as I grown older, I'm tired of cheap, mass produced, poor quality clothing. I want something that is unique to me, something that I could consider good quality, made with love and care plus attention to detail. I don't mind spending a day or two making something for myself. I find it hugely rewarding. I like that by making my own clothes, I have choices about style, colour, patterns, quality of materials and type of material. It is my way of expressing myself uniquely. I do not have to follow a fashion or a trend, rather clothes that suit me, my body shape, my personality and my sense of style. Why does that have to end at my age? I used to pride myself on being an individual when I was young. Now that I'm older, why should that change?
Green Dragon Fly Top. 
Secondly, dress codes. My past three jobs have all had dress codes. You have to look smart and professional. I hate that. I'm not going to lie, I hate having to conform to a dress code. For the past couple of years, my wardrobe has been bland, mainly blacks and generic tops. I do not look in my wardrobe and look forward to wearing something. I wear the clothes for work because I have to, it is expected of me. Blah. Well, that has to change. How you dress does affect how you feel. I can still look smart and professional. But the clothes do not need to be outrageous or bland. That can be just me. 

Owl Top with kick pleats in the front.  Hides a multitude of sins.
In the past couple of months, I've made 3 tops and knitted one cardigan for myself. I have enough fabric to make 3 more tops and a dress. I'm currently knitting another cardigan for myself. I have an A-line skirt pattern for myself. I intend to make some skirts as well to coordinate with my new tops. The range of colours is blues, greens, pinks, rose reds and creams. Patterns are varying from purple owls to flowers to simple spools of thread. My cardigan I'm knitting is a deep shade of cranberry. Yes, there will be some black in my wardrobe but not as much. 
Blue top made with fabric that was a gift from my son.
 So there has been much progress in my life with my handmade wardrobe. Its high time. I should have done this years ago. So it is cost effective? Yes to me. You can't put a price of feeling content with life.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Winter Blues

I haven't been my normal self lately.  This usually happens in the winter when I go to work in the dark and when I get home, its getting dark.  This winter is no exception and what's worse is the lack of sun.  I am so sick of rain.  I appreciate that they have been having terrible weather in other countries, but the rain in this country gets rather tiresome.

I am looking forward to brighter and sunnier days.  However, with it only being January...that really is a long way off.

On a more positive beat, I've sewn myself another top.  Its in bright greens, creams and browns.  Wonderful shapes, almost like vines and stone staircases combined...or that's what my imagination says to me.  I have some more fabric that is of vines!  I got three metres of it so I'm really debating what to make with it?  A tunic dress, another pleated blouse, maybe combine it with other fabric?  Decisions, decisions, decisions!

Here is a picture for your viewing pleasure:
Green and browns!
I am still knitting my cable yoke cardigan.  I am currently on the yoke itself.  Its taking a while as its a 14 row repeat and I have to do that sixteen times.  Its not the kind of thing I can do while I'm watching telly...well I do, but only if its a programme that doesn't require my full attention.  I don't know where people get this idea about doesn't really pan out for me that well.

I did have several days over the Christmas holidays of knitting and listening to music on 8track.  Is anyone else there? I love that you can create, share and listen to other people's mixes.  I have found some amazing mixes featuring some wonderful Icelandic bands and singers.  Jonsi is just wonderful.

Music is a curious thing.  For me, as I've grown older, my music tastes have mellowed considerably.  I used to be into punk and new wave as a teenager and some trash.  Now that type of music makes me feel edgy, uptight, irritable and just plain uncomfortable.  Yet, surprisingly, I have wonderful memories of that time, of places and of people.  But as for the person I was back then...well, I'm happier now.  I think its been a long journey for me to feel comfortable in my own skin as well. 

Feel free to say hello to me sometime too.  I often wonder what kind of people read my blog.