ramblings on a monday








We just returned from a fun, but exhausting, little trip.  A trip to visit family living in London, which includes our two year-old niece.  We don’t see her often, but what struck me was how much I love her. It just amazed me how much you can love a child that isn’t your own.  She is 10 months older than Alana, so its fun to see what’s, um, coming up.  And also get some clues as to what toys and activities our girl will be drawn to, we get to try everything out.  Alana spent most of the time in their house sitting at the little toddler table and chairs, straining to reach for the markers.  And so our table and chairs arrives tomorrow.

Another fun thing about our trip was the chance to go shopping and plan some new projects.  Although I knit less these days, I still buy yarn but am pretty good at buying for particular projects and then actually making the thing soon after.  Thanks to Ray Stitch and Loop my girl will soon be getting some mustard cord dungarees, and a Caribou cardigan. Its amazing too how quickly you can browse, decide and buy in a craft shop with a toddler in tow. Five minutes in each shop, and it was done.

I got back to some happy mail, some shiny new blended fibre from HilltopCloud.  At the start of the month I signed up for the Tour de Fleece, got incredibly excited about it, and then as always, gave up after a couple of days. This time I’m blaming my tools – my fibre stash isn’t very big and each thing I tried spinning was a bit rubbish.  Then I managed to spin some beautiful Hedgehog Fibres merino and made maybe the worst skein of yarn ever.  All a bit demoralising.  So I treated myself to something new, and this time it’s lovely.  I’m going to spin for a true 3-ply, to keep a nice depth to all the different fibres and colours.

Soon I want to write here about parenting.  Every day I find myself keeping quiet about my parenting views in some situation or another.  What we do works for us and we seem to be raising a fairly happy child, but I keep quiet I think because of some deep-down embarrassment or fear that I’ll be told that I’m doing it wrong.  Or maybe, because I don’t want other people to think I disapprove of their very-different methods.  Which is ridiculous really, we all do the best we can.

little dolls dress


Few words today, Alana is having a post-nursing snooze in my arms.  But I sewed this little dress up over the last couple of evenings.  So sweet and lovely.  As is her new dress.


She seems to find it (or something) funny.  Today has been filled with grins and baby laughter, and some very contented napping.  All is good.

Pattern is here, by Leila and Ben.  I am on the hunt for more sweet baby sewing, so let me know if you have suggestions.  And that was more words than I thought I’d manage!

a big little quilt


Three of the four little girls I mentioned in my last post have a quilt of their own, made and gifted in time for their arrival into the world.  Of course there were plans for little Emily to have one too, but her early arrival combined with not just another baby to make one for, but one that I had to actually look after too, meant things got a little behind.

It started off with a pile of 4 inch squares, as many as I could cut from the fabric scraps I’d chosen.  Piecing began, but soon I realised that an actual plan was going to be required.  I did a little drawing and kept on going.  It’s a little bigger than I imagined, more of a first-bed size than baby shaped.  Hopefully that’ll just mean that it’ll be in use for longer.

And it feels so good to be back at my sewing machine!  I’ve accepted that I enjoy patchwork and quilting so much more than garment making, and I’m going to stop feeling guilty about it.  There’s no rule that says that because I sew, I have to make clothes…



marielle skirt

Right now I am happily riding the wave of my sewing mojo.  My Cambie is finished (a reveal will follow after the wedding I’ve made it to wear at next weekend), and I celebrated by starting something new, straight away.

Maybe this puts me in the realms of weird fan girl, but when I saw the Marielle Skirt on Tilly’s blog I knew I needed this skirt in my wardrobe.


The directions (even in a magazine which I guess might have been edited) were perfectly clear and lovely.  Somehow though my skirt ended up with the opening on the opposite side.  I don’t think I made any whoopsies and my fabric was the correct way up, but clearly something happened, not that it matters.


(There is a strange chicken v dog territory war going on behind me in these photos.  Penny tries to look for squirrels in the tress.  The chickens are unimpressed and charge her, trying to peck her tail as she runs away.  Chickens look triumphant.)

The fabric is some navy cord, and I lined it with a little cotton print I picked up somewhere.  Buttons are from my rescued/frogged Levenwick.


I love how this skirt is going to go with so many things in my wardrobe.  Penny likes it too.


cambie progress


I’m sure this post will jinx it.  But things are (now) moving along nicely with my Cambie dress. *

There was a moment a couple of nights ago when it all seemed to be going wrong – I had made the full-skirt version and suddenly the niggling voice in my head was deafening…’you’ll look like a meringue, you’ll look like a meringue.’  It was right, and I should have paid attention a week ago.  Mr Saz tried to entertain me with amusing tales but I was screaming at myself inside and trying to figure out if I could re-cut for the A-line version.

The skirt came off.  The gathers came out.  The seams were picked out.  The skirt was hacked apart.  And now, I have version A, with a much smaller skirt and one that is more suited to my shape.  Yay!

And the most important thing I have learnt with this dress – trust your muslin.  (Actually, I am going to start calling it a toile, because I’m not American and I only recently found out that we have a different word.)  Trust your toile.  And trust the friends who helped you fit it. It seemed to me that there were some pretty serious alterations going on.  Pattern pieces were cut with entirely new angles.  Lines went in different directions.  I never expected to need so many changes to the fit, but it is going to be totally worth it. This dress fits perfectly – when I think know about how it would look if I had made it exactly to the pattern pieces I shudder.

I just have the lining to sew, which I will now do with total confidence that it’s not going to be a mess and huge waste of lovely fabric, and then some little finishing bits.  And I still have 10 days to go, so I’m letting my mind wander a little onto my next sewing project…

*Yep, if you look at this picture and think that one of the sleeves is sewn together with the seam allowances on the wrong-side, you’d be right.  Sewing too late at night is to blame.

sneak peak


I am working on something new.  In three weeks we have A Big Day in our family, and it requires both a gift and something to wear.




This the gift – nothing very fancy or groundbreaking, just something I love to make, in fabrics I love, for people I love. It’s coming together quickly and I planned to finish the top this weekend.  But um, the sun is shining.  So off outside I go to dig and potter about, and I’ll take my makings with me when we travel up North for a few days and hope my mum doesn’t mind me using her sewing machine.

The Something To Wear is in its very early stages and I am taking my time to get it right. For the first time I made a little test bodice and got some help from friends to get a good fit.  There’s a little sneak peak on Ysolda’s blog just now (ignore the silly face – I had a fit of the giggles and didn’t know where to look), along with a very thoughtful post on the fashion industry, and our wardrobes.  Enjoy your weekend x

picnic blanket skirt

Ta da!  For the first time ever I have finished a sewn garment that is actually going into my wardrobe!


Not the sharpest picture, but since its also one of the only times I’ve smiled into a camera without looking like I am about to murder someone, its the one that’s going up.  (Bowie the Chicken says hello.  She is in a very friendly mood just now and wants a cuddle at every opportunity.  Its egg-laying time and she hopes I might be a man.  Anyway….)

I made a Picnic Blanket Skirt mostly during a class on Saturday at Ray Stitch, with the lovely Tilly.  It was fun, and I learnt a few things that are probably super-obvious to sewing people of experience, but which being self-taught and always alone at my sewing machine I just never figured out or thought about.  The class also made me want to sew all the things.  Now.

Once I got home and was faced with the final touches on my own I discovered a bit of a problem.  Originally I drew and cut the pattern so the waistband would sit lower (probably closer to where I wear my jeans), but after trying it on this was NOT a good look.  It really needed to sit closer to the narrowest point of my waist to make those gathers look sensible.  In the olden days I would have realised this, though ‘oh well,’ finished it anyway just to be done and then put it away in a drawer.  Not now!  Taking the whole thing apart – gathers, top-stitching and all, seemed a step too far, so some surgery was required.  I figured out how much fabric needed to come out to make the waistband narrower, centred it on the back, calculated seam allowances, cut out a chunk and french seamed right the way up the back.  It means there is a little lumpy bit on the wrong side of the waistband at the back, but it sits nicely in the small of my back and doesn’t bother me.  And it means that I’ll wear the skirt, so I’m calling this a success.

The offending extra piece late at night –


The fabric is Architextures by Carolyn Friedland, from Ray Stitch, and the buttons are cute ones that were on their counter beside the cake.  A darker fabric might have been an idea (I already smeared a teeny bit of chocolate on it), but hey ho, I love it anyway.


I also took the time to finish this really, really well.  I’m going to visit my Gran next week and she likes to look inside the things I make.  She has very high standards…  I even added a hook and eye closure at the waistband to stop any gaping.  (Insert smug face here.)


And now a silly picture, which is going up only as proof that I wore awesome shoes to match yesterday.  Just need to practice walking in them..  They don’t look that high in the picture, but as a chicken-lady who lives in wellies, I teeter in these beauties!


happy mail day

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m about to go on a little trip, and take a class a class with Tilly at Ray Stitch.  I am beyond excited about this, my dress-making skills have slipped a bit and a refresher is required.  Especially when there are 3 metres of blue silk waiting for me when I get back, ready to be transformed into something amazing for my little brother’s wedding next month.

Before that though I am squeezing in some last-minute decorating (what do you think about the grey wall?, I am a little in love with it) and getting my crafting ready for the trip.  The new plants will be potted on in the greenhouse and will need to wait until next week.  So much to do!  It’s starting to feels like the season of doing and growing.

crafting for the animals…and the winner

So…to the exciting thing first – the winner of the Dropcloth sampler, Yarn Yarn silk embroidery threads and possibly a couple of other goodies from the depths of my craft room.  Congratulations Nicola!  Your post was picked at random and I will send you an email in the next few minutes…  Thank you to everyone who entered x

And so back to usual business…the new chickens are settling in well, and I am most definitely head-over-heels in love with them.  These girls are much more active that our last lot of rescue chickens.  This is due to a change in the law for these kind of caged hens in the UK, who must now have (a little) more space, and a place to scratch and roost.  It’s better, but still not good enough in my opinion.  They have a some natural behaviour, but looked frankly amazed when I carried one outside for a wander.  Fresh air is something completely new for my girls.

And so the names – Lady Dorothea Featherbottom (Dotty), Scarlet o’Hara (Scarlet), WPC Polly Parker (Parker) and Duchess Mimi the Second (Mimi).  Here’s little timid Mimi.  I knit her a wee sweater as she’s in the worst shape physically and is completely bald on her belly.  She’s very pale and has been over-heated, so the sweater should help her adjust more gradually.  She seemed quite happy as I got her dressed, but a little less tolerant a few minutes later.  I’ll try it again when we put them outside, she’ll need it then and might be a bit more grateful!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEveryone in our house is getting new things this week.  Mr Saz and I treated ourselves to a fancy new mattress and bedding and it is lovely.  And so last night after the men were relaxing after getting the mattress upstairs, I sat down at my sewing machine and bound a little quilt for Penny that I pieced and quilted a while ago.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is made from leftovers of a large quilt I’m making for the humans and as you can see above, is nothing really to be proud of!  But the top is a lovely soft cotton flannel, and Penny seems very attached to it already…


slow stitching and a giveaway

Pretty much all my crafting falls into two catergories – very fast and very slow.  Sweaters probably fall somewhere in the middle, but I don’t make too many of them…

It’s working well for me just now.  Keeping a balance seems key – if I’m working on a slow sewing project like Swoon I can pick up a quick hat to knit for relief.  And when the Beekeepers Quilt or those massive colourwork socks get too much I stitch up a quick potholder, or spin a little sampler.  Its helping to keep me sane and focused right now, which is just what I need.

Finishing Swoon gave me a little more confidence in my ability to actually finish big, long-term projects.  So I started another –


The first patchwork I ever did was paper-pieced (and small), and this is the first time playing with it since.  I even managed to find my old hexagon templates, though, um, I’ll obviously need a few more.  This one is destined for another family member, and one with an extremely large bed.  I’ll need to get some sneaky measurements of it…  Just as Jules said in the comments on Swoon, one stitch at a time is the best way to undertake big projects.  I’ll do this the opposite way to Swoon – hand pieced and then machine quilted.

I’m in a kind-of methodical mood at the moment, taking my time with things and being thorough.  I did a little spring cleaning (including cleaning and oiling my sewing machine – eww), and came up with a little giveaway.  In my embroidery box I found two of the same Dropcloth samplers – the original one shown here.  I’ve decided to give one away, and will throw in some hand-dyed silk from the Yarn Yard.  It’s lovely, dyed just a few miles from my house, but is a little thicker than I like to use for my embroidery (but is loved by others, I’m sure.)  If you’d like these threads and the sampler just leave a comment letting me know, and on Tuesday night I’ll pick someone at random.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI might dig around in my stash and see what I can add in too.  Have a good weekend x