Monday, 8 June 2015


Gosh. So the webshop's down. I thought I knew what the problem was - I was working on that assumption all of Saturday. Turns out, that's not the problem. It goes a little deeper and I've not idea where to start. So it's the perfect time to give you a blog where there's nothing to sell which I don't usually like doing, as much as this sounds like chatty fun, it's a deep seated plan to sell sell sell (or at least get the google rankings up, haha). If you're wondering, everything can be done over the phone - so if you're wanting yarn or patterns or workshops or whatever, give us a call on (0115) 9474239 and we'll get a payment sorted Now, on with the chats.

So, I want to talk about the newest project that I'm just about finished with. It's a dress based on this one:

This is my stawberry dress and everybody loves it. I love it. Although, it's a bit 'booby' for me now. I don't know whether it always was or whether my weight has fallen differently now. Oh well, I wear a top underneath it mostly which means it is not that appropriate for summer. But that's fine. I wear it in Spring and Autumn. It's the dress that I was making when Lizzie, formerly of Knitty Gritty in the Viccy Centre Market, asked me to teach her lessons for her which kickstarted my knitting career. It was the first sewing project that actually worked for me. I made it all over the place - at work, at the pub, on the beach I think. And I've worn it all over the place - messy nights out, refined picnics, our first birthday party. Given that, there aren't many photos of it so you'll have to put up with this one of my baby nephew. He's five now and an actual snotty terror. Ugh. Kids.

So, I made this by knitting the top - out of some sort of Rowan Cotton if I remember rightly - and fitting it carefully to my body. I did a good gauge swatch, knitted it in the round and worked both short rows and veeeeeery quick increases to shape around my bust. Once that was done I found this perfect material, cut out a slightly a-line skirt shape in two pieces, sewed them together, folded over the top and put some elastic in, sewed that carefully into the knitted bit, put a hem on it and then to stop the straps stretching too much I lined them with some left over material. All of this sewing was done by hand because I don't trust sewing machines (although, I'm roughly coming round to the idea now... kind of...). It worked perfectly. It's a bit of a bugger to work out what cardigan to wear with it because of the tied straps at the top but I've got two that work and they're both hand knitted so yahtzee.

I've tried to remake the dress to no avail. In fact, I spent an awful lot of money on some designer material and some veeeeeeery expensive yarn (I'll not say the name but it may or may not rhyme with bebbie spliss...) and it didn't bloody work! First because the pattern on the material has a right and a wrong way up and not being a sewer I didn't actually think about that and secondly because the yarn just bobbled as it was being worked and then when it was worn. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. So much money wasted. So, I gave up on my dream of making beautiful dresses like that and just enjoyed wearing my beautiful strawberry dress. 

Until last Christmas. A couple of days after my operation on my ear (going well I think folks, strange sort of popping feelings sometimes but I'm going to assume that means it's healing because I don't get to see the doctor until August now. I blame the cuts.) Chris and I went to see his parental units. Despite our differences they're really sweet people and they put together a couple of days of easy going pottering around sort of activities that I could be part of or not as my ear allowed. One of those was to go to a garden centre. How middle class is it to go to a garden centre just for a potter? Haha. My mum does it too. Maybe it's just middle aged? Anyway, I really enjoy it. It's actually something that me and mum did the very day after my surgery too. So maybe it's middle nothing and just some secret ear healing activity. Anyway. I can't remember buying anything from the centre until I saw this:

Which is just the mostly beautiful jersey dress that I've ever seen. Look a bit closer:

See the size? Haha. WHAT POSSESSED ME TO TRY THIS ON??? It's a size bloody ten. But somehow, the drugs and the boredom of watching fil try on many many slacks made me do it, and do you know, it actually fit! Kinda. It felt tight here and there, as if I needed just a size up. Which, let me remind you, would be a 12. Hang on:

My shape's changed, I've put weight on and lost it, and done excercising and stopped, but essentially, this is my shape and size. Big. Not a size 12. Very strange. Anyway, looking closer, there were two pieces to the dress (well, six, front and back, top and bottom and two sleeves but for my purposes...) and the bottom piece at the front was gathered at the front. I've got no eye for sewing so I couldn't tell until I started undoing how much extra material there was but I assumed about an inch which would have been just about enough for the ease that I needed.

Now, cut to Saturday. I've hinted, and I may blog, about the sheer amount of things I have finished lately. I'm hoping today to finish another one which will make 11 pieces over a month. Don't worry, only two of those were started and finished (and they were small), mostly I just had ends to sew in or half a sleeve to finish. Finishing these bits has opened up some space in my craft room, and uncovered a bag of yarn that I had set aside to give to Verity actually (sorry Vezza, you're not having it - tough tits) and it included this lovely cotton 4ply that I bought about eight years ago from Phildar in France.

If I remember rightly, they were about 30p a ball for 50g of pure cotton - the yardage makes it pretty similar to the Bamboo Cotton 4ply so if I'm feeling brave enough to redo this then this is what I'll use - apart from the fact that I bought like 20 balls of it (some have been used/lost/given away) so I may be able to find another combo of this Phildar stuff that works. Oh I don't know. Anyway, the colour, which I can't photograph well because you know me, is the most beautiful snotty yellow-y green. I luuuuuuuurve it. I think I bought it to mix with a bright kingfisher-ish teal but that was never meant to be. Anyway, under the archeological layers that my finishititis has uncovered, I found this beautiful yarn which was perfect and on Saturday - against all my better judgement I started a new project.

I chained a fair bit at the top (184 as it turned out although I didn't count at first, I just made it to fit and counted as I did the next row). Then I dc'd back. Then I worked out where to put my increases, roughly at a sixth point, then a sixth, then a third, then a sixth, then a sixth. If that makes sense to you, brill, if not, look up a pattern for a top down raglan (and I may well write you one but not today, too much bloody internetting to do.... ;) ). I was going to increase in the normal way but decided to try something different which I though would make it look more like the yo, k1, yo of a top down raglan in the knitting world. It maybe did, maybe didn't but it worked out because it increases where I needed to and doesn't look horrendous. Not sure I'd do it again though.

The beauty of a top down raglan is that you can try it on and on and on. It's kind of strange as you're working because it looks just so bloody big. All together you get the front and back at pretty much the largest point they're going to get and the sleeves and when you haven't worked like this before it does look biiiiiiiig. I was going to take a photo before I did the twiddly bits for the underarm but me and Chris went on a 5 mile walk yesterday and there was no a single point for me stop and photograph it. Barely enough time for me to stop and have a cup of tea for pity's sake. Anyway, by the time we were back in the car on the way back I was ready to start the twiddly bits and there was no way for me to take the photo to show just how big this bit gets. So trust me, it's weird.

So on the twiddly bit row, you work across until you get to the arm stitches, then you ignore those and chain a bit, rejoin to the stitches after the armholes (probably the front, it was in my case anyway) and you do the same at the other side with the armhole bits. And then you work down down down. I had to do some pretty steep decreasing at the sides here because this dress as I envisaged it, needed a sharp delineation after the bust or it would have looked like a sack. Once it was the length and width that I needed I did a few rounds of dcs on the bottom and a few on the armhole edges and boom - ready for the sewing. 

In the car on the way to the walk, I'd used a stitch ripper to take the top from the bottom of the dress. 

And again to take the elastic-y, jelly-ish strip that they'd used to make the gathers at the top of the skirt bit.

Which also shows the beauty of the pattern in up close detail.

When I went to do the sewing together business I ran into a problem. Taking the gathers out meant that the front section of the skirt was actually bigger than the back section of the skirt which meant that I couldn't sew the side seams directly into the sides of the crochet bit. So I folded it in such a way to find the exact front and the back and once I'd got those points I could get the exact side points (about an inch in front of the side seams on each side which means that I got at least 2 inches of extra material out of the gathers - boom!). I pinned the skirt into the top and didn't need to ease anything in which was lucky because I was knackered...

And then I started sewing: 

By hand because I'm scared of machines and my machine's at home and I was at Chris's. But it was quick. If there's one thing that I learned from my seamstress grandma (she single handedly brought her three kids up in the 50's when the husband had buggered off somewhere with sewing - good woman) it's to keep your stitches small. I'm sure there's more to it, I'm sure there are times when big stitches are better but in my head stitches should be so small you can't see them. She also told me to press everything. But I ignored that bit. Haha. It didn't take long at all - perhaps an hour - I listened to a podcast and Chris went to bed, it was beautiful. And by the time I went to bed, it was finished! BOOM!

Well, the ends still need to be sewn in, obvs. As if I'd do that last night. But I'm about to do that because I'm going to nip into Beeston, avoid the inbreds and buy some fresh herbs because I've got salad on the brain for tonight and I want to wear it. It's going to be perfect. But because Chris was in bed, and because I wasn't wearing a bra and I wasn't prepared to put one on (it was after 8pm afterall) there is no picture of it on. All I have is this: 

I love it. Love it. I think the top bit fitting me perfectly should mean that the bottom bit looks tight on purpose. Also, bugger it, I wear tight jersey skirts all the time so that's that. I'm also really pleased that in two days I've got rid of four balls of stash and a dress that I bought in a drug induced stupor and opened up a whole new layer of stash for me to be reminded of. I wonder what I'll pick out next???

Love Eleanor. xxxxx

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