Sunday, 22 September 2013

Procrastination central

I know. This blog has languished neglected of late. My apologies, but looking after a household of invalids while rehearsing a variety concert is enough to keep anyone busy.

Recently: I learnt to make jam in the microwave, and made a small batch of strawberry jam by myself and assisted with a large batch of mulberry. Blueberry jam may be just around the corner.

6 mice are finished and another two are WIPs.

I plan to make a diagonally striped top very soon - I've figured out the alterations needed to the pattern and hopefully can get it one this week. It's a Kwik-sew pattern but I can't remember the number just now.

I also made mulberry muffins using a variant on the blueberry muffin recipe I worked out last year. Nice!

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Mice and Food

Firstly, the room that contains both the computer and the sewing machine has been undergoing a Major Reorganisation, hence both the lack of updates here and the lack of dressmaking lately. All is now (hopefully) back in place, and certainly there is much more available light in the room, so I think we might have got it right!

Now on to what I have actually been doing:

The mice progress. Lizzie and Darcy mice are basically complete. Jane mouse is finished except her arms aren't attached yet (sorry Jane!) because I'm waiting until I've done Bingley mouse so they can be doing something cute and couple-y like having linked arms. Bingley mouse isn't even started yet - although I had very good intentions in that line, but I was sabotaged by having chosen a yarn for his breeches that SAID it was DK but actually knitted up Much Much Smaller.

Take note: Lincraft brand DK acrylic is a thin DK.

However, I was able to use the too-small Bingley-breeches for the Artful Dodger (irritating, as I had been going to try out the child mouse pattern for him, but oh well) and he's coming up quite nicely. Fagin is also underway - my eyes were watering a bit whenever I looked at the colours I had picked for him, but he doesn't look too clash-y now.

Oh yes! I downloaded the Dickensian Party Mice pattern from Alan Dart's website - it's a companion piece to the Dickensian Mice Sirdar booklet and has indoor clothes rather than outdoor, so includes things like frills for the ladies skirts and necklines, and gentlemens' frock coats. Very useful!

In the cooking line, I made strawberry tarts to this recipe for Fathers' Day afternoon tea - very nice flavour but mine came out much too big - I only got 6 where the recipe says it makes 8. Also I used my old faithful pastry recipe, but for once it wasn't a great success. :-( Next time I'll try the honey/spice version and see how that goes.

I've also done some experiments lately in jellied fruit, by which I mean fruit in jelly. Mulberries (courtesy of the M-I-L-E) in Blackcurrant Jelly and Strawberries (from the farm stall down the road) in Purple Grape Jelly. I regret not getting photos of either of these, because they were very attractive, but they vanished before I could. I think that means they were a success!

I also made apple, pecan and cinnamon mini-muffins yesterday - the first batch were slightly overcooked but very tasty - second batch were fine.

Now I'm off to try to get the pink shirt finished. I fear I may have left it too late though - the weather is rapidly warming...

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Pride and Prejumice

I've had a head cold which I am now very nearly over. It really knocked me sideways though, so I haven't been getting much done the last couple of weeks.

I have, however, started on a project to make Alan Dart mice to a Pride and Prejudice theme. Lizzy, Darcy and Jane are all underway and going well - I'm a bit puzzled about what to use for Bingley though. The patterns I'm using are:

Darcy - Mostly the Ringmaster from Cirque de Souris, but using hose legs rather than trouser legs, plus a neckband from Harvest Mice and an improvised cravat. He actually stands up rather well - much better than most of my other male mice.

Lizzy - Basic dress body but with the waist level raised two rows and a two-row garter stitch edging. I used the bonnet from Dickensian Mice, the skirt frill from the May Queen in May Day Mice, and the arms are based on Jill's from Nursery Rhyme Mice. Improvised reticule.

Jane - Dress same as Lizzy's. I used Little Bo-Peep's bonnet from Nursery Rhyme Mice and arms based on the May Queen in May Day Mice.

After that I'm planning on a couple of Oliver Twist mice - Fagin and the Artful Dodger. And a few ideas for an Hercule Poirot mouse have been floating around recently...

Other projects? Stuff that, I'm making mice.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Defining 'stash'

I have a very small yarn stash.

Those of you who have seen my yarn stash are probably thinking I need some psychiatric help about now. Or maybe glasses.

The thing is, although I do have some quite a bit of lots of yarn, not all of it is Stash.

Herewith are presented my rules for stash definition:

1. Any yarn bought for a specific project is not in the stash. This applies even if I have since decided not to make the project. Sooner or later the yarn will find another project.

2. Any yarn bought without a specific project in mind but with a definite intention of using it to make one is not in the stash.

3. Partially used balls from a previous project are not stash. They are leftovers. The only exception to this is if there are also spare balls of the same yarn. Spare balls are counted as stash.

4. Any yarn which would ordinarily be counted as stash, but is too expensive/rare/attractive to be stash, is not stash.

You get the idea.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

A Penelope day

Remember Penelope, from Greek mythology? She was Odysseus' wife, left behind while he went off to Troy and was away for twenty years. She was under quite a lot of pressure to re-marry, as Odysseus was 'presumed dead', but Penelope was a cunning lady herself and managed to play for time. Her strategy was to announce that she would choose another husband only after she had finished weaving a shroud in memory of Odysseus, and every day she worked on her loom. And then every night she unpicked her day's work.

I was reminded of Penelope when I spent all last evening crocheting a hat, only to realise when I finished it that I had made a mistake in the second round, thus completely ruining the stitch count and size, and so had to unravel the entire. darn. thing.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Commercial break*

Hear ye, dressmakers of Australia.

I know many of you don't like Spotlight very much. A lot of the time I agree with you. It's certainly no substitute for the many Little Fabric Shops that have gone under from financial pressures.

But I'm here to tell you, they have the BEST product I have ever found for dressmaking toiles: Trace and Toile Interfacing.

You trace the pattern on to the interfacing. Then you cut out the pattern pieces in the interfacing, and sew up the garment in the interfacing (using a good big stitch). Try it on. If you need adjustments, you mark it on the toile - which means you are marking it directly on the pattern! Unpick the seams at the end, and voila, you have a pattern already altered to fit.

I found it pins and sews beautifully, without tearing or stretching, and isn't too stiff when fitting it on the body. This is definitely one product I'll be keeping around.

*This is a completely gratuitous recommendation of a product. Spotlight have not given me any incentives to write this entry. However if they would like to send me free stuff or filthy lucre they are welcome to.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Look up in the sky! It's a UFO! It's a WIP! It's... way too many projects

- Knitted Alpaca scarf - Still about halfway.
- Crocheted Scarf for Mum - A quarter of the way.
- About to begin tracing off shirt patterns for Mum and me, as we are both in DESPERATE NEED of tops. This has taken Total Priority over any other projects atm. Functional clothing is needed.
- Blue/green top - finished all sewing, but one side of the neck came out longer than the other, so a gathering thread needs to be put in.
- Navy skirt - still needs waistband finishing
- Light blue blouse - fronts and back cut out but not sleeves

Recently finished:
- Blue/green crochet hat - Made from Cleckheatons California 8 ply in Ocean.
- Grape wristwarmers - Made from the leftovers of the grape hat.

UFOs, temporarily abandoned while I think about the direction these projects are taking:
- Doll's Kimono - Made from Bendigo Classic 5 ply wool, in Butternut (a sort of apricot colour). Back and fronts done, tried on two dolls and it has come out way way WAY too long, also the wrong shape... yeah, stuff it.
- Slip-rib tunic - Decided to start over with a different pattern, as I like everything except the shape, which is, y'know, a pretty big problem.
- Navy jacket, White shirt, Wool skirt - all temporarily put aside.