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.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Current activities

 In a rush, so just a quick run-down of what the current projects are:

- Alpaca scarf - Made from 3 balls of an alpaca boucle that's been floating around for a while, in a 3 by 3 rib stitch. About halfway.
- Doll's Kimono - Made from Bendigo Classic 5 ply wool, in Butternut (a sort of apricot colour). Back done and half one front.
- Doll's Welsh outfit - done
- Slip-rib tunic - UFO

- Scarf for Mum - Made from Bendigo Classic 2 ply wool in Cherry Red. About... 5 inches done.
- Doll's Welsh hat - done
- Blue/green hat - yet to start

- Navy skirt - still needs waistband finishing
- Navy jacket - cut out but not sewn
- Light blue blouse - fronts and back cut out but not sleeves
- White shirt - stuck at the collar which doesn't seem to fit the neck
- Blue/green top - cut out, marked and pinned
- Blue green skirt - done
- Wool skirt - still figuring out how to do the yoke

Recent baking:
- Butterscotch brownies
- Survival bikkies
- Lemon curd

Thursday, 11 July 2013

And the 2013 Abbey Medieval Festival is now over

The costume:

Dress made from cotton jersey, original colour Natural, dyed Navy blue. Pattern a mixture of sources - half-circle skirt from hip-seam, t-shirt style bodice and upper sleeves - KwikSew 2619, lower sleeve from Vogue pattern - now out of print but any similar ones could be used.

Hem and sleeve edgings made from quilting cotton - patterns made by using the edges of the original patterns and adding seam/hem allowances.

Sleeve linings made from quilting cotton.

Dull gold braid was sewn around neck and matching cord was sewn around sleeve edges.

Undersleeves are cotton rib - they were actual sleeves cut off a purchased top and I added elastic to hold them above the elbow.

Headdress is a sheer white scarf wrapped around head and neck, pinned, and tucked in at the neckline of the dress. A plain straw hat on top.

I found the belt at an op-shop. The bag has been rattling around the house for years (and was completely inauthentic, but did the job).

For next year I may do a new costume, or I may touch up this one a bit more (the accessories, particularly, need work). But we'll see when we get there. In any case, I really need to get into some practical dressmaking for a while.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Normal service will resume next week

The medieval costume is nearly done!

Ok, so the braid decorations for the upper sleeves didn't work and were removed. The brown 'mudguard' on the hem looks GREAT though, as do the sleeve linings and edgings and cord trim.

I'm using a pair of old cut-off sleeves as the undersleeves - cut off a long-sleeved top because they were getting little holes in and so I turned the top into a short-sleeved one. They are knit, hence non-authentic, but on the other hand they will be quick to finish. All I need to do is sew elastic around the tops to keep them in place above the elbow. (The question of sewing them to the dress was explored and rejected. It's hard enough getting in and out of this costume without adding yet another layer of difficulty!)

The main thing I hadn't anticipated was the sheep weight of this costume - especially the sleeves. I can't even imagine how the original medieval ladies would have managed with several more layers as well. I suppose at least it would have helped to keep them warm.

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Some updates

Some quick updates on the medieval costume:

1. I started re-attaching last year's braid neck-trim... and it looked awful. One quick trip to Spotlight later and I have new braid. (Discounted and discontinued, so I got extra.) It is a dull gold. I also got some cord to match.

2. The sleeve linings are sewn but not attached to the dress yet. They are a vivid rust colour. They look good.

3. I am about to cut out the edgings for sleeves and hem. They will take time and energy and may not work. They are a boring brown. They will look... authentic. Also, due to the weather forecast, the hem edging may actually have to be functional in keeping the mud off, so I have to make it deeper.

4. This is turning into a very busy week. I have no idea how much time will be available for doing this costume.

5. There are a few spots on the dress where the dye blotched. I probably don't have time to do anything about this. Unfortunately, it's in a rather visible area. Well... visible from certain angles, anyway.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Preparing to go Medieval

So the costume for this year's Abbey Medieval Festival is UNDERWAY!

Not a costume I'll be able to enter in their costume competition, since it involves knit fabric and a serious lack of authenticity, but on the other hand I will be able to finish it in time, which is a very definite plus.

It is, in fact, last year's costume with alterations. The costume was originally made for a costume party I went to as Eowyn from The Two Towers - the white dress she wears when we first see her at Edoras. For the Eowyn version, the dress had a gold hip-belt, gold ribbon/cord down centre front, gold/jewel braid around the neckline and cord binding the upper sleeves. Worn with white shoes and a gold band across the forehead, it was pretty effective (the only real problem was the lack of long golden hair. Ah well).

Then for last year's Abbey I removed all the trimmings except for the neck-braid and pinned my hair up under a sheer white scarf draped across the front neck to look like a veil/wimple. I forget what shoes I wore, but I also had a wide-brimmed straw hat to keep the sun off.

This year I started by removing the braid trim, and then used Dylon Machine Dye in Navy to dye the dress. I tumble-dried it, which I was a bit worried about (being cotton) but it seems to have been ok. It's come out a nice dusty blue with just a hint of green - the original fabric was 'natural' rather than pure white, so had just a touch of yellow in. Colour-mixing rules apply to dyeing as per usual. I had suspected this would be the case, which was why I didn't dye it green in the first place - yellow-green not being my best colour, I didn't want to take the risk!

The plan now is to re-attach the braid around the neck, line the hanging parts of the sleeves (I'd hoped to do this last year but it didn't happen. Those visible seams really bugged me!) and edge the sleeves and hem with a contrasting fabric - partly for a historically accurate look, and partly because the white polycotton thread didn't dye and is rather obvious on those hems. I also want to make a pair of undersleeves so my arms aren't just showing everywhere in the hanging sleeves, as ladies of the time would most certainly have had another garment on under the outer dress.

Then there's the question of shoes, hat/head-dress, belt, accessories... and at least some of these will undoubtedly have to wait for another year, since I only have 10 days to do all of this!

Wednesday, 19 June 2013


So. Damn. Cold.

I know it's winter here, but still, it's supposed to be the sub-tropics. It just shouldn't be this cold, is all.

Wall-hangings for the twins are proceeding apace - i.e. they are done apart from the actual calligraphy. All dressmaking is on hold until I get them done - I need all the daylight I can get!

Doll costumes continue - the Welsh doll outfit is taking more time than expected because I've redone the shawl at least 3 times already. Still, I think I've got it figured out now.

An unexpected crochet hat happened the other day. I blame the yarn fumes. California 8ply 100% wool in colour 'Storm' (which is green and purple, go figure). From the stash, though, so it was stashbusting, not startitis. (It's important to keep these things straight.) And I'm thinking of doing a pair of wristwarmers in the leftovers.

It's ideal weather for baking, so chocolate biscuits might be happening sometime soon. No more muffins just yet though - we still have quite a few in the freezer.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Rain, rain, go away

At the moment:

Some things I want to do I can't do because the light is too bad and I can't see.

Some things I want to do I can't do because they wouldn't dry in this weather.

Some things I want to do I can't do because they can't be done until I have other things done first, which I can't do because either I can't see or they wouldn't dry.

And I did all the other things yesterday.

Also, the Abbey Medieval Festival has just announced it's having a costume competition this year - announced with LESS THAN A MONTH to go - emphasizing historical accuracy and skill/techniques - and somehow I still think I would have a chance of getting something done. No.

Thursday, 6 June 2013


I've been taking things pretty easily for the last week, on account of not wanting to precipitate another bout of RSI (one was most definitely enough!). Also, I seem to be on a doll-clothes kick as far as knitting goes, and doing a lot of work with fine yarn and needles really doesn't help wrist tension. I've being trying to use ergonomic techniques for knitting - like using different hand positions for knit rows and purl rows - which work pretty well until you get to a rib section, and then you're basically stuffed. But basically, I'm recovered, and am trying to create a Welsh costume based on the patterns in the old Patons booklet I got the Russian doll costume out of: "Dolls Clothes Around the World".

I'm a bit annoyed with the dressmaking at the moment, as I've been trying out the patterns from the Surefit pattern making kits, and have made a pair of trousers that still don't fit despite having followed instructions. However, I've now got some interfacing that can apparently also be used for toile fitting - BEST idea ever if it works! - and will try again. I'm also going to try the blouse from the same kits and see if it fits any better.

Meanwhile my baby twin cousins are rapidly approaching their 2nd birthday, and of course I need to make their presents. These are going to be co-ordinated wall-hangings featuring their names and some nursery-rhymes, in the same style as the ones I did for my other little cousins when they were babies - made from cardboard and ribbons, the name is on one side and the nursery rhyme on the other. Hopefully I'll have enough time to get these done!

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

You can't knit forever...

After spending hours knitting on the one day, I had a slight ache in my right wrist, which by the next morning had developed into a full-blown case of RSI. Resting and recovering now, and it's feeling a lot better today, but I'm avoiding the knitting/crochet for a bit, and using the computer isn't too comfortable either.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Re-use, re-cycle... and dye!

Firstly, I am in the black hole of skirts. Seriously, I have not touched a skirt since... oh right, since before making 25 skirts for the theatre group. Hmm. That could have something to do with it...

On to the main business of the day. The navy dye I bought to dye the medieval dress has been re-purposed and used to dye an old jacket that was looking pretty shabby. It started out as a nice black corduroy number, but over the years developed some nasty rubbing on the edges and folds of the fabric, which sent it grey/white in places. Not good. But it still fits really well, so I didn't want to throw it out. I thought of binding the edges, but decided to try dyeing it first to see how that went.

A note. I deliberately did NOT use black dye to re-dye this jacket. Black dye is notoriously difficult and frequently needs 2 packets where any other colour needs only one, and I didn't want to go through all this just to find I'd dyed the edges a slightly different shade of grey!

Dye used: Dylon machine dye, colour Navy, 1 packet.
Buttons were removed from jacket before dyeing, and the jacket was turned inside out as per washing instructions on label.
Used front-load washing machine on 40C Delicates cycle as per packet instructions.

I am really pleased with the look of the jacket since dyeing it. The colour, while remaining black, has gained depth and richness, and the blue is only visible as a sort of sheen - similar to how black fur/hair sometimes has blue highlights. Very good result!

(Photo will follow - you probably guessed that by now, though, didn't you?)

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Weekend road trip

There's a new Lincraft store opened only 10-15mins away from me, and I had a list of stuff I needed to get - YES I really did need all of it, sheesh! - so Mum and Nanna and I hopped in the car and went on an AWESOME THOUGH VERY SHORT CRAFTY ROAD TRIP.

I managed to get almost everything I needed (yay!), which was:

1. 2 x 35mm buttons to finish Rainy Days Vest. Check.
2. 1/2m of black ribbing to make a new yoke for a wool skirt I picked up secondhand. Check.
3. 3.5m black binding for hem of wool skirt. Unfortunately they didn't have this in black in the right width.
4. 4 small red buttons for Dolls' Russian Dress. Check.
5. Millinery wire to stiffen edge of Dolls' Russian headdress. Check. (I hope - I'm not quite sure what millinery wire is.)
6. Black round elastic for waist of Dolls' dress and tights. Check.
7. Dark blue dye to modify last year's Medieval costume - it's cream and I'd like it to get less filthy this year. Check.
8. Cord to make a drawstring for some pyjama pants that had lost their elasticity. Check.
9. Um... something I can't remember. Check.

So it was a very productive trip. The vest buttons have now been sewn on, the pyjamas have a new drawstring and the elastic is in the dolls tights. Next up should be the wool skirt.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Never knit when you're tense

I know. Sounds counter-intuitive, doesn't it?

Maybe I should rephrase, however.

Never begin knitting the second sleeve when you are more tense than when you knitted the first sleeve. Because you are likely to find yourself more tightly, and then when you measure it turns out you're getting a much firmer tension than you got on sleeve 1 (20 stitches to 4 inches as opposed to 18 stitches), and you are then going to need to pull out everything you've done on the second sleeve.

Yeah. Ask me how I know.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

RL is not good just now... I don't know how regularly I'll be able to update. I seem to be attending a lot of funerals just now.

However, the silver and gold skirts are done and sent off, so they're out of the way.

The vest is done and blocking, and I've started knitting the Slip-Rib Tunic from Patons 1210. Yarn is Zhivago in deep red colour.

Hope you are all well.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Silver lining

Silver skirts are DONE! Bound the hems with polyester interlock - 1m was plenty - cut into 1.25 inch strips across. Using a rotary cutter and mat to cut the strips made it go so much more quickly than using scissors - more even, too! I co-opted a volunteer to try on a skirt and the length seemed fine, so hopefully the same will be the case for all of them.

I'm about to try mending the frayed bits and opened seams on the gold skirts. Since they were made out of lame/lurex about 7 years ago, and have been worn in a number of theatrical productions since... they're in bad shape. Mostly the fabric is fraying too badly for me to do much good mending them, but I'll have a go so I can say I have.

Rainy Days vest is almost done - coming down on the far side of the button band now, with only a few inches left. Then I'll need to find some buttons. Unfortunately, the pattern doesn't say anything about blocking after finishing, and it's going to really need it as all the 'rib' bands are curling like blazes.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Forgot to say...

I realised after yesterday's post I'd forgotten to mention a few of the recent lot of creative pursuits. So without further ado, they are:

1. The 'Rainy Days and Mondays' vest from 'Crochet Today!' - using Bamboo Ewe (wool/bamboo blend aran weight). I'm up to the bottom band, halfway through that, and then it'll be time for the button band/collar. It's required MANY samples and test swatches for stitch, tension and just about everything else as well. But it seems to be going fine now. (Touch wood.)

2. 'So this isn't Home Sweet Home - Adjust' cross-stitch designed by Joan Elliott. Features a lot of teddy bears doing cute but destructive things all over a traditional 'home sweet home' style sampler. Very funny and although it is quite large, it breaks down nicely into smaller motifs of 1-2 bears. Almost halfway on this (although in the interests of full disclosure I should point out that it's been sitting around for over a year with almost this much done).

3. Researching a costume to make and wear to the Abbey Medieval Tournament and/or History Alive events. Having temporarily given up on the full-skirted medieval gown, I'm looking at doing an Anglo-Saxon style outfit, using this:

undefinedas inspiration, more or less (I have a black-and-white version of this picture in a costume book, but couldn't find it online). For a better idea of the style, go here and look at the Anglo-Saxon lady half-way down the page.

Meanwhile, the silver skirts have all been cut out. They did all fit on that piece of fabric - worth remembering that circles can be cut out more economically than squares - but I'm now a bit worried they may be a bit short. As I don't have heights for the ladies, I'll just have to see how things go - worst case scenario there is a fair bit of fabric left over, so maybe I can fudge lengthening them. Also, they need binding with black at the bottom hem, so maybe I can use that to lengthen a trifle. 5 skirts are now ready for binding/lengthening, 4 still to go. I may yet throw them on a bonfire.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

She returns

So, He Who Provides A Shoulder told me to get back to doing this (probably because he doesn't want to hear about it). So here I am, back again!

Life's been hectic, but at least it's changed from a moving-house sort of hectic to more of a spinning-around-in-circles kind.

Also, the camera is out of action at present. This will hopefully be remedied soon. Putting batteries in would be a start.

But without further ado, a brief summary of things since I last updated:

Solomon's shrug: DONE! Also I made another one in navy Sirdar Snuggly Baby Bamboo. VERY nice.

Medieval doll's dress: Abandoned. The fabric just wasn't doing what it needed to in terms of drape etc. The polycotton poplin was definitely too stiff. Linen or wool would obviously be better, but Pricey! Anyway, I achieved my goal of trying out the medieval dress cutting/sewing diagram and now have a better idea of how it works for a adult.

Navy skirt: Um. No progress. Definitely will get it done soon though.

Baking: Belgian Chocolate Cake made successfully and to rave reviews. Very complicated to make though; I don't think I'll be doing it too often.

I also signed up to help make costumes for my favourite local theatre group who are doing a 60s theatre restaurant. This is what's currently driving me round the bend (in a good way, mostly).

First off was making 16 tulle petticoats - I used the tutorial here for the construction except that I didn't sew the fabric yoke into a tube as I didn't have hip measurements and wanted to make sure people could get into them. Polycotton poplin yokes (Spotlight) and the stiffest, plainest, cheapest tulle/netting I could find (Lincraft), with 1/4inch elastic. I also tied the elastic in a knot so people can adjust if needed.

Now I need to make 9 silver satin circular skirts to match the 7 existing gold skirts. Requested 11.7 metres of fabric, was presented with 10 (all they had on the bolt). Which means, according to my calculations, that I'm going to get 7.5 skirts out of this length, and then hopefully I'll be able to match the stuff or I'll have to get enough for a full two skirts. One skirt is made already, so I'm planning to get the cutting out all done this afternoon, and then see where I am. (There's always a chance my calculations may be a bit off...)

Anyway, I'll keep you posted. Hopefully I can edit this later to add pictures.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Moving house is hard to do

Moving Day is now officially Friday 22nd. The observant among you will note that this is exactly one week away. We then get to spend the weekend cleaning the place from top to bottom, followed by an inspection early in the next week.

My to-do list should therefore read something like this:

1. Remove plastic boxes of children's books from my parents' garage. Transfer these books into large cardboard boxes. Store in Grandpa's shed.

2. Pack the books that are currently on my shelves but that I won't be needing in the next few months into the newly-emptied plastic boxes. Store in parents' garage.

(Transfer of books is necessitated by ease of access vs. flood levels. Let me tell you, it's necessary.)

3. Move books that I will be needing/wanting and place in bookcase in new room at parents'.

4. Clear out under bed in new room. Fill space with boxes containing fabric and paper.

5. Move craft boxes to parents'. Bend laws of time and space to fit them in new room.

6. Dismantle shelving units. Store in odd places.

7. Unload chests of drawers. Move to parents'. Find room in odd places. Re-load drawers.

8. Pack wardrobe contents in suitcases. Move to new room. Fit into wardrobe despite wardrobe being half the size. (They'll squash.)

9. Move sofa-bed to Nanna's. Accept inevitability of the attempts that will be made to hang on to it when I need it back.

As of Sunday, this is what it will look like. At the moment, though, it reads:

1. Decide which skirt is going to be 'distressed' for Bellatrix Lestrange costume.

It's a lengthy process.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013


So here's the thing. On Saturday I'm going to a birthday party for a friend. It's a bit last-minute - she only decided to have one a couple of days ago - and also, it's a costume party. The theme is to come as a book, tv or film character.

Which means I have 3 days to come up with a costume. Preferably cheaply and easily.

At the moment I'm tossing up two ideas:

Sandy from Grease
Costume: Yellow skirt, white blouse, ankle socks, sandshoes, cardigan?


Bellatrix Lestrange from Harry Potter
Costume: Black top, black skirt, black corset, black heeled boots, pendant etc

I have just about everything I need to do either of these. Obviously Bellatrix would involve more work in the hair/makeup line, but there are some pretty good YouTube videos to help with that.

I'll try to get photos of both looks and post them soon.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

The Reader is Warned...

...that I will be moving house in the next two-and-a-half weeks. This means my posting schedule is likely to be erratic. Although the actual end-of-lease date is March 29, the requirements of getting the place clean - and the fact that the end date is actually Good Friday - mean that moving things out is going to be a gradual process.

It also means I'm not likely to be starting any many new craft projects during the next couple of weeks. I am going to do my best to finish the ones already underway - Solomon's Shrug, the navy skirt and the medieval doll's dress, if you've forgotten - and I have a dessert competition coming up next weekend that will take up some of my time and probably involve baking. Other than that, my craft materials and tools are going to need to be packed up soonish, so there may not be much activity here for the next little while. However, I have plans for the next few projects which I'll get started on as soon as I have time and space again.

In other news, my card reader apparently works perfectly on every computer but this one.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

One of those days

9:30am: Leave the house. Drive south.

While driving, be stunned at the amount of furniture on the side of the road. Realise it must be the yearly kerb collection time. Consider turning around and returning with truck (there was a really nice lounge suite).

11am: Arrive at destination. Collect the three nearly-new suitcases my kind and generous aunt has given me. Admire 20-month-old twins. Be ignored by both twins.

11:45: Back on the road. Drive north.

1:15pm: Arrive at parents' home.

1:30pm: Have lunch.

5:30pm: Leave after lunch.

6pm: Return home to find housemate's mother is visiting with her kitten.

6:02pm: Open bedroom door. Kitten enters simultaneously.

6:05pm: Kitten under bed.

6:10pm: Kitten in wardrobe.

6:15pm: Kitten walks across bed and jumps onto windowsill. (I close wardrobe.)

6:30pm: Kitten figures out how to get off windowsill. Repeats process of jumping up and getting down 8 more times.

6:45pm: Kitten opens closed wardrobe.

6:50pm: Kitten takes flying leap from wardrobe onto my lap, using me as a springboard to get onto windowsill again.

7:10pm: Kitten leaves room. Decide to do some crochet. Remove Solomon's Shrug from bag. Kitten appears in doorway and takes flying leap at crochet.

7:11pm: Put crochet away. Kitten attacks foot instead.

7:20pm: Kitten and owner depart. Pour large gin and tonic. Drink.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013


So yesterday was surprisingly productive. (It did rain, but only for ten minutes.)

I worked on the Solomon's Shrug

No, it's not finished. That's the amount I got done out of one ball (Sirdar Juicy). AND it finished the yarn at the end of a row!

I also worked on the Full-skirted Medieval Dress:

which I've been working on for a couple of months, on and off. The instructions are from Medieval Costume and How to Recreate it. Please note I said 'instructions' not 'pattern'. There is a diagram on page 99 of the book showing how you layout the fabric and manipulate it, but a lot is left up to the dressmaker to interpret.

I'm hoping to make one to wear to the Abbey Medieval Festival in July (I go every year, it's awesome, if you're in the area check it out) but I thought I'd better make sure I wasn't going to stuff it up hugely and waste a lot of fabric, so I made a doll's version first, which is being modelled here by Kim. Please make her welcome.

Here's another picture of the dress which shows more of the skirt:

It is an ENORMOUS skirt. A full circle reaching down to the floor is a LOT of fabric. The good thing is that the actual yardage to buy isn't that much, since there's some pretty impressive cutting and piecing going on.

And in other news:

The skirt waist has been gathered and the waistband is pinned on ready to sew. The colour is actually a very dark navy - imagine a blue-black. The pattern is from No Time To Sew, with a few alterations. (Like shortening it by 5" and tapering the panels in an extra 6" at the waist and even then it needs extra gathering. And yes, I did make the smallest size.)

Next up, hopefully I'll be finishing these off. Although, there's always the next project to start on...

Monday, 4 March 2013

Electronics with issues

My camera is telling me it's low on battery. It just got new batteries. Telling it this is having little effect as yet, but I will persevere.

My card reader has developed separation issues. It will only work with my laptop if I hold it in place the entire time it's plugged in. The moment I release my hand, it's gone.

Pictures will therefore appear as and when the technology permits.

The Solomon's shrug progresses unfrogged (mostly), although it is now being created from one sleeve edge to the other, instead of bottom to top as the pattern says. I consider the pattern forfeited all rights to telling me what to do when I realised that following its instructions as written would have resulted in a 40cm square piece of crochet. Given that the measurements given are 90cm from sleeve hem to sleeve hem... yeah. You see the problem.

Please note I am not blaming the designer for the error. I am quite sure that in her pattern all the instructions are correct and would indeed result in a shrug exactly like the one pictured. I am, however, choosing to believe that in formatting it for the crochet magazine in which it appeared about 2 years ago, some errors were introduced. (I will leave the crochet magazine nameless. They have since been taken over by new people - I don't want to blame them for the errors of their predecessors.)

This afternoon I am definitely going to get on to the skirt. Unless it rains again.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

A little diversion into crocheting

So, I know I was going to do the gathering stitches around my skirt today, but the weather is still overcast, and besides, I started this

last night.

The yarn is Juicy by Sirday (I heard it was discontinued but not certain about that) and the pattern is Solomon's shrug by Jenny King. I'm having to learn the Solomon's Knot stitch - which, let me tell you, is not as hard as the instructions always make it look. Either that or I'm doing it wrong.

I do realise that starting a lacy summer shrug is probably not the most sensible project coming into Autumn. In my defense, I meant to start this months ago, but - and I swear this is true - I could only ever find ONE of the yarn or the pattern at a time. As soon as I found the yarn - WHOOSH - the pattern disappeared. Crafty gremlins - literally.

I'm just a bit worried though. It's supposed to be knit bottom to top, forming a rectangle 90cm wide by 40cm long. What I've produced so far is about 40cm wide. Either the pattern or I are in trouble. Possibly both.

I'll be taking it to the Oracle of All Things Crochet and Most Other Crafts, aka my mother, to get it checked this afternoon.

Season of Mists

...or, more accurately, season of rain and mist and drizzle and generally miserable weather.

I can't even see to sew the gathering stitches on my skirt. Tomorrow will be another try, possibly involving the use of the Ott-Light. And maybe wearing my glasses.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Ta-Da! (Belatedly)

Many thanks to all of you for your patience! A combination of RL commitments and technical issues has meant I've been running around in circles for the last few days. Hopefully it should all be straightened out now!

Finally I have photos of the new top:

The pattern is Simplicity 5759
I made view D, size 12. The size I chose was a bit larger than I would normally wear, but I was making the pattern in a less stretchy fabric than the pattern envelope recommended and didn't want it to come out too small. Actually, the pattern envelope says you need fabric with 50% stretch, but I think this is more applicable for Views A-C, which include quite tight-fitting ruching. Views D and E seem to need fabric with more drape but less stretch.

Fabric used here was called 'Megan', bought about four years ago through Knitwit Australia - it's a polyester/spandex jersey-type knit with about 20-25% stretch and great drapability. One metre was plenty to make this top.

In the pictures I'm wearing the top with a skirt I made about the time of purchasing this fabric. This was the first time I used the pattern and fabric shown here, and they have both come to be firm favourites.

The fabric used is Knitwit Monaco in Violet, also purchased through Knitwit Australia. It's a polycotton double-knit which is made so that the right side of the fabric is polyester-rich, and therefore durable, while the wrong side is cotton-rich, and therefore soft and breathable. It sews up like a dream and produces a really tailored look - comes in about 15-20 different colours - I have have 6 skirts made using it.

The pattern is Kwik Sew 2771, 8-gore skirt. I made view B but lengthened the pattern 1.5 inches as I wanted it to hit just below the knee. I've since made several skirts using this pattern with the length modification, and it is a great classic basic. If your fabric is 150cm wide (60") and has no nap, then you don't need more than a metre of fabric - ignore the suggested layout and put your pieces top-to-toe for a more economical use of your fabric. It also makes up very quickly - I made one in a single day when I desperately needed a black skirt.

The next project is a 6-gore navy skirt - stay tuned, because it's driving me to frustration!

Monday, 25 February 2013


The Princess has been attending job interviews over the last few days, and would like to apologise for her absence from this blog. Rest assured she will return soon.

Also, The Princess's card reader is not talking to her laptop, so photo content may be a bit lacking when she returns. However, tech support is being summoned (thanks Dad), and hopefully the problem will be solved shortly.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

The best laid plans

Today was going to be the grand unveiling of my new top being worn for the first time - and not just being worn, but being worn with the skirt I made to go with it 2 years ago. I had the whole thing planned out...

And then my camera batteries died.

Regular programming will resume after I get to the shops.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

The doldrums of domesticity

I'm sitting here writing this while waiting to see if the bicarbonate-of-soda mixture I've just spread over the benchtop is going to work as advertised for removing the saucepan mark.

Fingers crossed.

While I'm waiting I'm reading my way through the archives of the Yarn Harlot's blog. Does anyone here read that? I've been reading Stephanie Pearl McPhee's books for years, but I've only just started reading her blog in the last couple of weeks. It is HILARIOUS. Seriously, the woman is a comedy genius. Which is all the more unfair since she is also a knitting genius. She does hate crochet with a vengeance, but I guess nobody's perfect.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to some serious watching paste dry. Hopefully the cat won't jump in it first.

Why Grandma, what big socks you have!

When I was a young girl, dear readers, I used to occasionally visit my grandma. It was only occasionally because she lived 3 days drive away, if you went the fast route. So these visits happened about every other year.

Now, my grandma's house was not the best-designed house for a child to live in. (It was even worse when I got to be a teenager, but we'll pass over that for now.) If I wanted anything to play with, I had to bring it with me. There were books, but most of the accesible ones (ie, those not locked in a childproof glass-fronted bookcase - yes, I know it was childproof because I tried to get in) were Readers Digest condensed novels and suchlike. Not of great interest to me then or now.

But! (she said, raising a finger emphatically) there were some items of great interest to me. You see, back when Grandma was a girl, she had been given some Girls' Own Annuals. These were compilations of a year's worth of issues of The Girls' Own Companion and Ladies Home Magazine. (They don't make titles like that any more.) Anyway Grandma had been given a half-dozen or so of these Annuals. AND she had kept them!

Now believe me, some of the contents have dated badly. Instructions that washing your hair should be done no more than once a fortnight? I think not. Others, however, are still relevant and interesting. Yes, dear readers, I'm talking about the knitting and crochet patterns!

Which brings me to what I wanted to say in the first place. (Look, I'm new to this blogging business, ok? Bear with the rambling.) In one of these Annuals, which dates to the late 1920s, there is a pattern for a lady's stocking. Which is basically a sock, done in very fine yarn, reaching up to the knee. Sounds basic enough, right? BUT this stocking has one very unique feature. The heel, sole and toe are knitted in a separate piece and attached to the rest of the stocking by slip-stitch crochet. Which means that when you get a hole in the toe - or the heel - you just pull out the slip-stitching, remove the sole piece, knit up another one, attach it, and voila! A hole-free sock!

Pretty nifty, huh?

Now, I would have thought that someone out there would have come up with this idea. There is an Elizabeth Zimmerman pattern for socks with a similar idea, but only the sole is knitted separately, not the heel and toe as well.

So I have two questions.

The first: does anyone know of a pattern out there for this technique?

And secondly: given that I have no idea of the yarn, the needles or the tension, and I've never knitted socks before, what are my chances of turning this pattern into a wearable sock?

Tuesday, 19 February 2013


Welcome to The Princess Creates!

Herein will be found my efforts at dressmaking, knitting, baking, cross-stitch, crochet, dollmaking, calligraphy, card-making and any other creative activities that come my way.

Why am I starting a blog?

Because my friends are getting pretty sick of me posting things on facebook like "Grr. Waistband of skirt-in-progress is too small", "Yay! My new sewing machine arrived", and "Owww I just burned my wrist getting muffins out of the oven".

They neither know nor care about the glories of successfully learning how to use blending filament or do proper French knots. Talking about a burning desire to defeat that sock pattern leaves them edging away slightly.

Which brings me, dear readers, to you. (Hypothetical though you are at present.) You are the ones who will now be receiving my rants, my exultation and my despair. You will be getting pictures of works-in-progress and (occasionally) finished results.

I hope you enjoy.

Much love,

The Princess