Saturday, April 12, 2014

Jellywares Yarn Club! It's where the cool kids are at...

I have followed the Jellywares blog for a long time now (as one of those silent, slightly stalky blog reader-but-not-commenter people).  Jodie lives somewhere remote in New South Wales, in a life which couldn't really be much different to mine (I have always lived in a City, though my current-and-forever hometown Hobart isn't exactly New York...).  Her blog is a gentle and natural narrative about life there and is mostly craft-centric (which pleases me).  She is also ridiculously prolific in her makings (also pleases me, I am not a patient reader!) and she sells gorgeous yarns too!

So when she launched a yarn club, I looked at the unfinished wool-related projects I have (crochet shrug, knitted beanie, knitted top and knitted socks) and thought - why not?  I love surprise packages of craft stuff in the mail, and I love distractions from all the WIPs I have lurking ready to depress me at a moment's notice :)

The yarn club was launched via her Facebook page here, though there is a post about it on the blog too.  Go check out the page and all the finished project photos popping up - I should probably get my ass into gear and block my first efforts...

I stupidly forgot to take a picture of the first, gorgeous parcel which arrived, mainly because I was too excited.  I got the knitting option (there is one for crocheters too, I do both so Jodie chose for me!) - and the first parcel included some gorgeous autumn-y yarn (Cascade Sierra - cotton/wool) with which to make several leaf shaped washcloths (I will post pictures of those once blocked).

Jellywares Yarn Club

The parcel also include some yummy biscuits and a beautiful bag in which to hold my project.  I was VERY pleased!

Meanwhile, I have made two leaf washcloths but not yet blocked them - and parcel two is already here!  This time I managed to catch myself because I dug in and took pictures:

Jellywares Yarn Club


Lovely indeed!  Jodie is a master of making everything beautiful - with additional little touches that make these club deliveries really nice to receive (go check out her blog pictures - she makes a ball of wool on a deck look so wonderful I want to give up my job and move to country NSW...).

Jellywares Yarn Club

Inside was the yarn for this month (Araucania - Alpaca, Merino, Silk).  Instead of one pattern like last time, Jodie pointed us at a variety of free options on Ravelry which would match the amount of yarn we have.  I haven't entirely decided which one to make yet (there is a very lovely tea cosy picture on the Facebook page which is tempting me!) but I think I am going to make a beanie this time - how gorgeous will that yarn be as a slouchy simple hat?

Jellywares Yarn Club

There was again a heap of beautiful extras in there - like this very cute crochet bunny gift tag - already stolen by my daughter!

Jellywares Yarn Club

Lace trim that Jodie dyed herself (seriously - she must be superwoman) in a beautiful rich indigo colour, plus (badly focused behind) a lovely card her friend made.


Jellywares Yarn Club


A mysterious easter egg...

Jellywares Yarn Club

which opened up to reveal heaps of very very useful stitch markers (how did she know I have bought at least 4 packets of these during my life as a knitter, but can never find one when I need to?).  I had to keep the daughter firmly restrained as she definitely wanted these "treasures"!

Jellywares Yarn Club


AND some chocolate shortbread.  Which lasted only long enough for this picture to occur.  Check out the amazing colour and sheen of that yarn - I have to restrain myself from starting now...

So - all up I am so happy I signed up for Yarn Club!  From now on I will post the parcel and finished items together I think, but I wanted to share the ultimate gorgeousness of the packages as a whole.

So why did I join when I have so much else waiting for me to finish it off?  Well a while back I read LLadybird's post on how she stays so prolific a sewist, and apparently it's because she doesn't really allow herself WIP/UFOs.  She starts something, she finishes it, she moves on.  Admirable, but I don't think it's how I craft (even though I would like to).  My life is such that I need something to cut out or trace in front of the telly, things to sew which are mindless for when I am tired but want to relax and stitch, stuff to knit or crochet on the bus (mindless) or on a quiet afternoon (more complicated).  Yarn club fits in with my need to stop knitting a whole jumper, take a break and knit a quick, rewarding, different project.  Like a palate cleanser or an amuse bouche :)

I embrace my wippiness (so totally a word...), especially if lets me keep getting parcels like this every month! Go check out Yarn Club - all the cool kids are doing it :)

Wardrobe Architect: Weeks 3 and 4

The Wardrobe Architect

I am falling a little behind on the architecting.  But that's OK - I intended to work through this process when I had time and only if it seemed useful to me (it does!).

In weeks one and two we explored how style changes over time and how you feel about your personal style (argh!  feelings...!).  Week three was a little more specific - allowing you to explore shapes and how you feel about them and your style.  My preferences are apparently exceedingly middle of the road and can be summarised as below:

  • Pants and skirts can be any length except really really short and I like a mid to high waist
  • Tops and jackets are generally fine but never loose (that pregnant look...mmm!) and never cropped
  • I don't like high necklines (round, turtle) - I find them really unflattering with a large chest. I also don't like strapless or spaghetti straps (again, the boobalinas are influencing preferences).

I enjoyed this week's exercise, probably because it was easy for me and not overly threatening :)

Week four looked like an annoying amount of effort but I actually really enjoyed it.  I ventured into the world of Polyvore to build my preferred silhouettes, then posted them back to my pinterest board.  As a side note - building the things in Polyvore was surprisingly fun, though am not sure what I would ever use it for again...!!  Here are some of my silhouette favourites:



This was the first mashup board I made.  The combo of long leg, fitted but not super skinny jeans and a flowing (but not baggy) shirt seems to suit my figure.   I am tall with long legs, but also curvy.  I couldn't actually make my self just do silhouettes during this exercise - I had to find examples of clothes in colours and fabrics I actually wanted to wear :)



 Not sure this silhouette is really very fundamentally different to the one above :)  This one is slightly more aspirational as I can never find a non-stretch shirt which will fit the girls comfortably but not be baggy around the waist.  Yes, I know I can sew.  I am getting around to it!



I don't wear skirts often but really like that one above and it should suit me.  I also have the Mouse House Creations Julia Cardigan ready to sew (pattern is taped!) which is very similar to the black cardigan in this one.  The sleeveless top again works well with my dimensions and I have lots of tops of that ilk already...in fact - that sort of top became a bit of a theme when I did my final set - which was a many items work mega-mix below:




What do I want to wear to work?  Apparently, the same thing every day :)  These aren't that dissimilar from the top two casual sets.  Does that matter?  Not sure.  I didn't explore other silhouettes which I like, such as maxi dresses and the like, but that's because we are headed for winter and I won't wear them as much as this stuff (I work 9 days out of every 10).  If I am starting to build a basic wardrobe which is comfortable, flattering and in my style, this is probably how I need to begin.  I can add things which step outside of the basic later.

I did notice there are no dresses in here.  I like the idea of dresses, but not really wearing them.  I am trying to find the pattern which suits me, fits me well and makes me feel good - and the Go To Casual Lady I modified isn't far off, but it's still a journey which is as much emotional as about practical matters such as fit.  I think I should work on making the basics the staples of the wardrobe I own, then perhaps start working out how to sew more of the things I can never get to fit in RTW.

We'll see.  I am currently making a quilt so I expect this might be a long journey :)  Anyone else trying to refine their style and stop themselves buying stuff that doesn't suit because they like the "idea" of wearing that style?

C x

Friday, April 11, 2014

Pattern Test - Sew Sweetness Edelweiss Backpack

It's not a secret that I love pattern testing and especially for Sara from Sew Sweetness, who appears to be the nicest person on the face of the earth.  She also makes great bag patterns (winning combination!).

This time it was a backpack - the Edelweiss.  I was interested to find out she had never designed one before because she couldn't "see" one she would like (I think that's what she said).  I think it was worth the wait and the musing - because this pattern is lovely.

Image from Sewsweetnesspatterns.com
I particularly like the way the flap comes over on this bag, plus it was great to use some more "hardware" and do the adjustable strap thing too.   I believe you can make this as a cross body bag, but I think it probably works best as a rucksack.

I made mine out of things I had in the cupboard already (score!) - with a bicycle theme:

Sew Sweetness - Edelweiss Backpack - front

I had intended this to be for my friend Danica (who rides a lot!) but my daughter Isabelle has all but claimed it, as she fell in love with it while I was making it.

I don't have too much to say on this pattern. Again, the instructions were clear and well thought out, and the construction was pretty straightforward. I always find with bag patterns that there seems to be endless cutting (and this was no exception), but I guess you can't have pockets without cutting them out :) I also sped the process up by fusing a whole piece of fabric to the interfacing and then cutting the pattern shapes out of that, rather than cutting them separately and then fusing them together. Once the cutting is done the sewing really doesn't take long at all.

 I love the process for putting in those bordered, exposed zippers, the super neat bound seams inside (sorry - forgot to take a snap of that!), and as I mention above I think the adjustable straps make it look super professional. I added the piping as a tweak, but then of course cocked up the execution of the front pocket flaps - so any wonkiness in those is mine and not Sara's!

Sew Sweetness - Edelweiss Backpack - side

Another great bag pattern which was a pleasure to sew :)

C x
p.s. Have you seen Sara is now designing fabric? Great stuff - and there will be KNITS! Heaven :)
p.p.s.  I did learn how hard it is to spell Edelweiss during this pattern test, I always try and insert an extra i somewhere...

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Thread Theory Goldstream Peacoat - a birthday present for Dad!

I was lucky enough to win a competition where the prize was the Goldstream Peacoat pattern from Thread Theory.  At that point the pattern itself was not released - I had the option of choosing the digital pattern (quicker!) or the paper.  I think I originally went for the digital, but then saw their paper patterns and swiftly changed my mind - those puppies are drool-worthy!

Image from the Thread Theory website because I forgot to photograph my copy....
So when I won this I showed it to my husband Nick, and he liked it - but then his parents bought him a (nice, but clearly inferior..) coat for his birthday.  He then didn't really "need" another coat.  So my thoughts turned to a girl version for me - there are many super gorgeous examples out there (google women's peacoat and marvel at the results), so that was the working plan.  I even tried one on in Jeans West, to see what they looked like on me (I liiiiike...)

Me in a peacoat. Should I make one for me? I think YES

But then my Dad came over. Two weeks before his birthday.  Two and a half weeks before he left Australian "Autumn" (temps in the 20s) for English "Spring" (temps in the double digits if you are lucky).  He saw the pattern and waxed lyrical about the coat he had when he was a twenty-something lothario (my mum remembered it too, so it must have been good!). As soon as he left I started tracing the pattern and sacrificed the Italian Wool from Cleggs in Melbourne on the altar of the surprise birthday present.

This. Pattern. Is. GORGEOUS.  For me, it's the perfect blend of doing it properly with usability and clarity of instructions.  I noticed the recent sewalong they had and that was eye opening (of course it came after I already made the thing).  The sewalong took the base pattern and said - hey! if you want to, here's how you do this shit like a pro.  They had the horsehair canvas (seriously, I had to google that) and there was lots of hand basting, tailor tacks and the like.  It was a GREAT sewalong.  Most of them just sew through the pattern, and frankly, if you bought the pattern for a full on tailored coat, you probably don't need to see how you understitch something, you need to explore the other ways of achieving a great result with different techniques, fabrics and approaches.  Their sewalong was perfecto.

So here is the result for me (I finished the day the sewalong was announced...go figure):

Goldstream peacoat
My crapola phone pic makes this look dirty and shabby - in real life it's ace I promise!

I made the version without the pleats in the body.  As this was a surprise, I was making it a bit blind.  I know that my husband and father can wear each other's clothes *mostly* but my husband is a little broader in the shoulder, a little taller and with longer arms.  Usually the broader but skinnier cancel each other out, but I was nervous. I got mum to measure a shirt of Dad's, figuring that was a good fit for fairly snug - though not his actual measurements, obviously.

Here it is on Nick, several times :)

DSC_0180
What is he looking at?


With a photobombing dog
The photobombing dog, of course!
Nick in Goldstream
Being silly...
DSC_0172
Being serious and super stiff!
And also, on me - given that I still intend to mod this pattern for myself!  It's a good basic starting point, to know how it fits made out of the box as a size L.

DSC_0184
Needs more shape, but I have a good starting point...

So this was a super nerve-wracking experience for me.  Dad like clothes more than most men (though still cares a lot less than most women).  I have never made anything for him before, so I was kind of nervous.  Being English, he was a bit overwhelmed and didn't really know how to say thanks or whatever.  He compensated as all English (and most Australians) will do - by being stupid and posing in the coat, as a cover for any display of emotion which might compromise the stiff upper lip:

Dad being silly in his Goldstream


All up though, he really liked it (I could totally tell).  He went off to stupid-cold Newcastle and promptly got man-flu.  Apparently he has both nursed his flu by snuggling in the coat, but has also had LOTS of unsolicited comments on the awesome threads.  My work here is done :)

Dad in his Goldstream




Saturday, March 29, 2014

Thread Theory Comox Boxers - Pattern Test

So have you come across Thread Theory yet?

They are awesome. Wonderful mens clothing patterns, with an attention to detail and eye for classic yet on trend design which seems impossible. Plus they seem to be lovely people and a fantastically well rounded partnership.

They have the Parkland Collection  from last year (Newcastle Cardigan, Goldstream Peacoat, Strathcona Henley and Jebediah Pants) which rocked. I have the cardigan and pants in the queue, and have a finished Goldstream Peacoat post to come, but before I made that, I was lucky enough to pattern test the Comox Trunks (Boxers).

Thread Theory - Comox Boxer - Back

I don't have a lot to say about this pattern because it's so great. I have never sewn for my husband before, and have never sewn pants before either. One might think that would be a double recipe for disaster, but these patterns are clear and conscise and super user-friendly.

Thread Theory - Comox Boxer - Side

My only words of caution are twofold.

  1. These patterns are annotated / sold as slim-fit or athletic build: they mean it! I am jumping for joy as my husband is skinny, so for me this rocks. For others, it means nothing other than you know where you are with it - adjust accordingly...
  2. Sewing for my husband is oddly compelling. So me-sewing time is a little threatened by how much he likes his pants (and how much my dad likes his Goldstream Peacoat!). I didn't expect to want to sew so much more for the gents in my life: you have been warned...

For this pair I used a plain black cotton (90%) and elastane (10%) mix. This combo worked very well - good stretch, but also good recovery. Nice and comfy apparently!

Thread Theory - Comox Boxer - Front


All up a great sew, and highly recommended by Nick :)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Wardrobe Architect - Catch Up Post [Weeks 1 and 2]


The Wardrobe Architect

I have been "playing along" with Colette Patterns Wardrobe Architect series.  I love this series - it's a great idea and so timely for me and what I feel I need to gain focus on.  Given I have a series (all of two posts!!) about things I don't like, it seemed only fair to also share what I do like.

In addition, I have fallen into a very common trap for new sewists which is characterised by a few different behaviours:
  1. I have learned to sew - therefore I should sew everything
  2. I should sew handmade gifts for everyone I know (then be cross if they don't like them), which means I have much less time to focus on what I actually want to sew
  3. Everyone else likes x - I should sew some of that 
  4. Maybe I don't wear stuff like [insert style or item here - i.e. dresses] so much because I find them hard to buy RTW.  I should sew those, instead of things I wear a lot.
  5. Why doesn't everything I own look like pinterest / so and so's blog etc.
Anyway - this series is about understanding your style and what you like and don't, with a focus on building a wardrobe of stuff you will actual wear and that feels good.  It isn't per se about minimalism or reduction, or even necessarily about buying less and sewing more, but both would be natural by products of this process.

Rather than share all the worksheet answers, I thought I would pick on a few things which stood out strongly from my answers from week one and two as follows.

Week one was about understanding how your life, history, society, culture, body image, work etc affect your personal style.  I realised that my style has changed quite a lot in the last 10-15 years, particularly as I moved half way around the world, my career has been built in that time, I have become a wife and a mother and my self esteem is a lot higher than I used to be - so I care a little more how I look.  I also realised I am very torn between the greenie hippy in me and the person who is learning about a world of fashion which to some degree is largely based on consumption and trends.  On a lighter note - I confirmed my suspicions that while I live in Australia, my style sense is quite European and northern (read: I like winter clothes better than summer clothes!).

Week two was harder for me.  We reflected on how you want to feel and how you perceive your style.  This is where the self-esteem isn't rock solid and I find myself cringing when I say I want to look elegant (Me?  As-if!!!).  My style icons were people like Emma Watson, Isabelle Rosselini and Cameron Diaz.  I actually found it hard to think of people who dressed how I want to (I don't pay enough attention), so these people were picked because they always look comfortable.  The main thing that came out of this week was that the style I aspire to is timeless, elegant and yet relaxed and comfortable and well-dressed (regardless of the style they are wearing).  I think my feelings on style tie very heavily in with this post, where a long time ago I mused that I want to look more attentive and pulled-together. I want to look like I dress nicely because I am worth the effort, yet using fewer, better quality, classic pieces.

Our final task for week two was to make a pinterest board (or whatever) to collect ideas of your core style.  Mine is here:  http://www.pinterest.com/deadlycraft/core-style/.  I was very interested when trawling my other boards for things to add to this to discover that I have hardly any trousers pinned.  I love trousers and wear them probably 80-90% of the time, so this was quite odd to discover!

Anyone else playing along with this exercise?  I think it's a useful process so far - and I guess you could start from the beginning whenever.  Might be a cool thing to redo in five year's time!

Cx









Monday, February 24, 2014

Things I don't like but everyone else seems to...#2 Peter Pan Collars

So we are back, with the second installment of the long running (mostly due to my posting infrequency!) series - Things I Don't Like But Everyone Else Seems To (or TIDLBEEST for short)*.

This time around it's the Peter Pan Collar.  As I began this post I started wondering about the origins of the collar - I couldn't recall who in Peter Pan that I have seen wears a collar like that.  Certainly not Disney's Peter - who is shown below in all his slightly sinister glory...


It seems that the collar was named such after the collar worn by Maud Adams in her 1905 depiction of the character (below).  Even that collar doesn't really have the roundness to it which is en vogue these days, but I can see the link...


So why don't I like them?  I am not really sure.  I think partly it's because they aren't flattering on me at all - they require a high round neckline, which is just about the worst possible thing a lady who is well-endowed can wear.  It's also because they are often tacked on to an outfit (literally - there are many patterns for detachable ones!) and therefore often don't match.  There is also a disturbing tendency for people to bling them or even make them crocheted, which mostly just looks a bit odd I think.

To be honest, they don't always offend me - there are some great uses of contrast with them - for example Issy has a shirt (which I bought her!  Shock!!) which is pale green with black birds printed on it. The black peter pan collar and button placket really makes the shirt look smart.  Generally though they feel a bit childish and girlie, which isn't a look I get inspired by at all.  I can see how they fit with a certain style, but it isn't a style I ever want to wear - so there!  (now who is childish...)

What do you think?  I was surprised when several people commented that they don't dig Liberty so much last time I wrote one of these.  Any other Pan-o-phobes out there?

Cx

*I shall from this day forth call something I don't like which is popular a "tiddle beast"...