Monthly Archives: March 2013

Farewell to Abakhans

My in-laws are moving away from Lancashire in the summer to a new pastorate*. I must admit that neither I nor Jonathan will miss it terribly, but there are four things which will be a shame to be leaving.

Top of the list has to come P, Jonathan’s best friend and college roomate from university who just happened to live in the same small town that his parents and brothers had moved to at the start of his gap year – lucky indeed.

Third on the list comes such easy access to the sea and fourth, the Lake District within day-trip distance, although I daresay that the North Yorkshire moors will make up for that one.

But the main concern (bar P) for me at least will be my lack of semi-regular access to Preston Abakhans. I wouldn’t say that Abakhans’ fabric is either high quality or predictable in its nature, but you simply can’t beat some of the bargain bins! Fabric is sold by weight – priced by the kg – and you can get the assistants to cut it down for you so long as they’re left with at least a metre.

So basically, it would have been rude not to.

1. Fab lightweight poly knit print, just shy of one metre. I’m thinking a top along the lines of BWOF 09-2010-121. £2.09.

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2. Bubbles lace (as I’m calling it). I’ve been on the lookout for a fun and not too traditional lace for ages! It isn’t stretch, alas, but but I have had t-shirt dress envy ever since Tanit-Isis made hers yonks ago so I may try and futz around with M5661 or similar. It could also be a fun waistband accent. Didn’t measure, but there’s quite a bit of it, by which I mean at least over a metre. £1.89.

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3. This fabric actually came off the bolt. It’s a lightweight woven of unknown compostion in a beautiful pale gold/ pewter colour and it’s got a gorgeous shimmery sheen to it. I bought two metres envisaging a shirtdress, but I could also see it working as a simple skirt and jacket combination if I could squeeze it out. £7.40.

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4. Cherry-coloured cotton poplin. Probably about a metre. Definitely a smart blouse of some sort. £2.74.

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5. A thin, baby-pink t-shirt knit, a bit under a metre. Totally Vogue 1141. £1.55.

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Bargainous. I was very good. I didn’t even look in the yarn section.

*Both Jonathan’s parents are ministers. Dusty Springfield was included on the wedding reception playlist, but I fear it got too lost amongst chatter to raise any particular reaction.

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Sewing for Pleasure

It helps to have friends in the right places. S called me on Saturday evening and asked if I’d like to go to the last day of Sewing for Pleasure, a 3-in-1 show at the NEC, because she could get free tickets. Well who was I to refuse, really? Initally reluctant because of the rather dire state of my bank account (and knowing what temptation would be laid in my way from attending the same show two years ago), I decided that if I set myself a strict cash budget then I would be all right.

I’m really glad that I did go! S is the one school friend of mine who ‘gets’ my sewing and knitting thing, and the show was a perfect vehicle for wandering around, chatting, drooling over pretty fabric and generally being relaxed in pleasant company, which is always a nice way to spend a Sunday.

I didn’t take many photos of the show in general, but I did take a couple at the Craft Club booth. They were asking visitors to knit or crochet a 40st x 6-8 row rectangle, which could then be linked into a giant chain. I did one with yo/k2tog eyelets in, just because I could:

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They reckoned that they had 2 or 3 kilometres of chain thus far!

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But you’re not still reading for the knitted chains. You want to know what goodies I came home with.

So, starting small… 20 buttons.

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4 lace trim bundles, 2 stretch and 2 not.

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Yarn! I had promised myself that I wasn’t going to buy any yarn, but it was the colour of this cotton that caught my eye, and it was heavily reduced. S very kindly gave me half the cost as a belated birthday present.

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…and the crowing glory: 1.5m of this gorgeous plum coloured woven fabric. (I have tried and dismally failed to take a photograph which captures the true colour, hence the rather useless shot below. I think it might be somewhere between Pantone 207 and 208, but I’m going with Googled images rather than an actual colour card, so I can’t guarantee that even that is accurate).

I forget what the composition label said – I think it might be a poly/viscose mix? – but it’s a lovely weight and has an even more lovely subtle sheen to it. Combined with one of the lace trims above, I’m envisaging a nice, smart work dress – perhaps a Colette Pastille?

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And that, my friends, was my budget gone. I could have spent another fiver to have gone home with my purse empty, but when it came to it, nothing was calling me. There weren’t as many dressmaking fabric stalls as I remember from last time, and I think that both my yarn and fabric stashes have reached the stage that by and large I’m comfortable with what I’ve got. It’s not that I will never buy any more – but I don’t feel the need to buy for the sake of it, if you see what I mean. And that’s a good feeling.

Essential Tops Sew-a-Long

I have signed up for a sew-a-long! Specifically, the Essential Tops Sew-a-Long at Faye’s Sewing Adventures.

Now you probably all think I’m crazy. The last time I signed up for a sew-a-long it was the pyjama party over at Did You Make That. Did I make my pyjama bottoms in the whole month that was allowed for us? Did I heck!

But actually, this one’s not entirely unrealistic. There are no quotas (hooray!) and the official sewing time runs from 24th March to 7th April – which just so happens to encompass my week’s holiday at Easter. I have tops in my sewing queue. I have the fabric, I have the thread for about three of them, and I even have one of the patterns traced out so there really are no excuses.

I don’t know whether finishing up current WIPs in the time-period will count? After six weeks of having neither energy nor a fully functioning brain, I finally got my sewing machine out again a couple of days ago. M5661 now looks like a real top: I just need to make buttonholes, sew on buttons, and hem it! Oh, and tack a couple of facings down. But it’s within striking distance!

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Project Pairing #4

No sewing has been going on here for ages. I’ve just been too tired, and the longer a project stagnates, the harder it is to get going again. I could let M5661 gain official UFO status and start something new! and fresh!, but that feels like giving up rather.

This hasn’t stopped me reading sewing blogs, combing eBay for pretty fabrics, and coming up with all sorts of exciting plans which I may never get round to, though. I must share with you my latest purchase: 3m of the most gorgeousest silk jersey ever.

At £10/m it wasn’t cheap exactly, but that’s a pretty amazing price for what it is. The fabric is quite sheer in person, so I think it will need some sort or lining or underlining to render it decent.

Anyway, the pattern that I have in mind (that I also need to buy) is Vogue 8825. I keep seeing gorgeous versions of it made up on other people’s blogs, and in the drapy, flowly silk… mmm. I’m not overly keen on the balloon sleeves, but that’ll be pretty easy to rectify for a more subtle look.

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WIP Detail Shot #4

More knitting in macro!

I am a fickle lady. More to the point, my charcoal cashmere Omelette has got to the point where I actually have to think about it – calculate how much length I want to add in and where, decide what size I need at the waist, work out the relevant decreases etc. etc.

So wanting some instant-knitting I started another of the cardigans in the queue – this time the Peacock Eyes Cardigan, which is top down. I’m using the yarn from this post, which is gorgeously smooth and simply beautiful to knit with.

But yes. “Make 7 stitches in 1”. My mind has offcially been blown.

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FO: Cinnabar in Words

A couple of posts back I posted the pictures of my completed Cinnabar (eee!) that a colleague kindly took on our lunch break for me. They’re not the most flattering photos ever because of all the sun-squinting going on, but they do show off the jumper quite well.

I love the fit on this thing. It’s flattering and highlights my curves, while simultaneously sooo warm and comfy. Why is that so hard to find in RTW? The only thing that I would change is the lower sleeves – I hate it when woolly jumpers are prone to dangling in the washing-up water but I did over-compensate a little bit here, and putting it on requires a bit of tugging down on long shirt sleeves underneath to not feel all awkward and twisted. I partly blame the gauge though – my swatch lead me to believe that the knitted fabric would grow more on blocking than it actually did. Ah well.

A couple of things are briefly worth mentioning. I effectively took 1 inch of length out above the bust because other people’s project photos were consistently displaying excess fabric in that region. (Actually I only took half an inch out, but seeing as I normally have to add half an inch in…)

I also threw in some k/p3togs in the first couple of rows after picking up for the collar in order to bring it in a bit closer to my neck. There’s no point in having a nice snuggly jumper which let’s in chills down the top!

So yes. My first jumper. I think it’s fair to say that I am rather proud of myself.

Oh, and these are the buttons which I went for in the end. Aren’t they pretty?

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WIP Detail Shot #3

Maybe “knitting in macro” should have it’s own category. I do love how my camera has picked up the subtleties in the charcoal cashmere.

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Of course, an alternative name for that category could be “knitting mistakes in macro”. Less sexy, somehow.

I didn’t think of it originally but taking such a clear photo and ‘annotating’ it in Paint really helped me see what was going on amongst that tiny (4 ply), dark yarn.

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