Overwhelmed

I’ve been thinking about writing here recently. Right now, I could write this exact post all over again – Knit therapy

Life is all just a bit overwhelming right now. Mostly it’s good, very good, but very full and busy.

Last week we were on holiday in Cornwall, which was honestly the best holiday I’ve had in a long while and the most relaxed I’ve been for ages. We enjoyed seeing a different part of the country, and Cornwall is truly beautiful.

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The boys being that little bit older now, we were able to get out and do some slightly more adventurous things together – long walks, a 20 mile bike ride and even a spot of parkrun tourism. We spent lazy afternoons crabbing in the harbours and eating fish and chips and fudge at the beach.

We nosed around craft shops and art galleries. I even found a yarn shop, though it was closed when we got there. The cottage we stayed in was lovely, spacious yet cosy, in a beautiful location. I really felt like I had space and time to breathe and relax. I read a whole book while we were there – Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier.

Coming home, with a return to clutter and chaos and a busy week of work and activities felt overwhelming and oppressive. I forget how therapeutic crafting can be, yet somehow it’s also part of the heavy weight of physical and mental clutter. I have so many projects half done, half abandoned, half intended, waiting in the wings for the right time or the right tools or the right space. I end up in a brain fog where I can’t get motivated to do anything at all, but just waste any free moments scrolling idly, uselessly through my phone instead, finding inspiration without motivation, ideas but no decisions. But yesterday I picked up some knitting that I hadn’t touched in months. I only added a few rows, but it felt good.

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Pokemon cake

Yesterday was cake day again. Pickle had his birthday in the Easter holidays, but had to wait til now for his party, and his fancy cake. This year he wanted Pokemon. We trawled Pinterest together for some ideas, and then I got to work and came up with this.

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It’s my usual Chocolate mud cake recipe, filled and covered in chocolate ganache. I would normally cover the whole thing with rolled fondant icing, but it’s a job I hate, and get stressed about on cake day, and am rarely pleased with the outcome. One of my inspiration cake images used buttercream instead of fondant, so i went with that. Apart from not quite getting the colour I wanted, I find buttercream so much easier to work with. I use a scraper to get it really smooth and with nice sharp edges. The fondant motifs stick really well to the buttercream too, although it is a lot more messy when it come to cutting it and wrapping in paper serviettes for the party bags!

For once, I finished the cake with plenty of time to spare before the party. Birthday boy loved it – especially that he got a new Pikachu toy out of it!

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Getting on with it

I have, at long last, had a day off! One day of absolutely nothing except the school run yesterday, on which I chose to rest completely. I watched The Phantom Thread (somewhat odd film, though beautiful) and then fell asleep with the cat on the sofa. I finished reading my book (The 1,000 year old boy) and watched some TV with Mr Jack. Perfect!

Today, feeling a little more rested, was a day of getting on with it. Despite my fabric disappointment the other day, I do still have enough of the same stretch denim I used before to make a second pair of trousers. I’ve been pondering the alterations for some time and hesitating to commit them to the scissors, so I made the decision to just get on with it. I finished the redrafting without agonising over every detail and cracked on with cutting out.

I only had time to cut one front and one back leg piece, but I’ve made a start and it feels good! And I have another day off tomorrow to continue. Bliss!

Knit therapy

Life is non-stop at the moment. Work this month has been more or less full time. Or at least it’s felt that way. Combined with the usual home and kids obligations, that would be enough of a challenge. But I’m pretty much rehearsing the rest of the time at the moment.

Now, I love rehearsing and I love my job, but to be honest it’s all been a bit overwhelming recently. I may have had a bit of an overtired emotional meltdown at the start of the week.

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Last night I picked up a bag of knitting to take to rehearsal with me and I knit a bit between scenes when I wasn’t required on stage. I haven’t knit a stitch for months and it was amazing how soothing it was to just quietly knit a few rows. I’d forgotten how therapeutic it can be.

Buzzkill

You know when you spend hours browsing a website and filling and amending your shopping basket, and that small buzz of excitement when you finally place the order.

And then the thrill when the package arrives in the post and the hum of anticipation as you have to wait for a more convenient time to open it.

And then the slight sink of disappointment when half of the things you ordered turn out to be not quite what you imagined and so you’re almost back to square one on a project.

That.

Clockwise from top left:

1. Clearance fabric that I thought would make a nice top, but is much more open weave than I expected. Plain green crepe intended as lining for said top. Hopefully I’ll still be able to do something with it.

2. Star print cotton fabric for future pocket linings.

3. Popper fasteners kits, D rings and bias binding for work trousers project.

4. Samples of fabric for work trousers, cotton drill in medium- and heavy- weight, both of which are not as heavy weight as I’d expected. And one I’d hoped would be a tough fabric for knee pad pockets is more like a lightweight tent fabric.

5. A variety of zips at clearance prices. Many are a bit shorter than I expected, despite ordering by length!

So, I’m not really any further with my work trouser project, but I’m sure the above will be used one way or another!

 

Pant-o!

I made my first pair of trousers! Oh yes I did!

They were done in time to wear them for crewing the Panto at work, which was just as well, since my previous work jeans acquired some extra ventilation in the knee department a few shifts into the run of the show. For any non-Brits around here, panto, or pantomime is a very silly theatrical tradition, which is very serious business around this time of year. Personally, I’ve always hated panto, but I’ve seen it in a different light this year, and being backstage has been an absolute blast!

Anyway, trousers.

The Bryce Cargo pattern from Hey June Handmade was a great starting point. The PDF pattern was super easy to print and piece together, and the instruction booklet was excellent. Well laid out and easy to follow.

I made several modifications to the original pattern, including redrafting the front pockets from hip-slash to jeans-style, and changing the pocket bags to a pocket stay, omitting the pocket flaps from the back pockets (and the leg pockets, though I hadn’t intended to) and redrafting the lower leg to be longer and wider.

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The finished trousers are not without their flaws, but are perfectly serviceable for the job. I now want to make a second pair and eliminate some of the imperfections of the first.

The front pockets are fab. I might be tempted to modify the depth of the pocket bags, but the redraft worked very well, the openings are a good size and the pocket stay gives extra structure to the front of the trousers.

The back pockets really don’t need a flap, but the jury’s out on the cargo pockets. I quite like them as they are without a pocket flap, but I think they may look better with one. I intended for them to have a flap, I even made them up, but sewed the buttonholes a little too small for the buttons and couldn’t be bothered to redo them. They were also quite bulky once folded over and possibly a fraction too short, and I thought the buttons might stick out a little too much and be prone to catching on things when shifting stuff about at work. At the stage that they were due to be attached, I was worried about the overall fit of the trousers – they looked like they might come up too small, so I wanted to get the leg seams at least basted so I could check the fit – so I thought I’d leave the pocket flaps and come back to them later. Of course, once I’d sewn the leg seams, it was then impossible to sew the flaps without ripping everything out again! So they got left off. I think next time I would cut them maybe 10mm longer than the pattern piece and try again with the buttonhole, or perhaps go for poppers instead.

The biggest problems with these trousers is the fit and the length. Both of which are my own fault. Firstly, I need to trust the seam allowances. That would go a long way to sorting out the slightly baggy fit at the waist/hips. I may also do a bit of a fit diagnostic on the rise before I go again. Secondly, I need to get someone to help me measure my legs as it’s very difficult to do it yourself. I added half an inch above the knee, which is about right, but I only added one and a half inches below the knee to take it from a calf length to a full length trouser leg. And I’m tall! I think an additional two inches would not go amiss, and even that is possibly too little. I think I’d also flare the leg out a bit further for preference.

Both of my female colleagues have admired them and even requested a pair already. I’m sorely tempted to oblige them, as i know women’s workwear is hard to come by, but I’m definitely making myself a second pair first.

 

Chop chop

Yesterday I paid a visit to my local yarn (and sewing) shop to pick up all the notions I need. They dont have much in the way of dressmaking fabrics, but they have a fabulous selection of quilting cottons with all sorts of fun prints.

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I chose one of these for my pockets – can you guess which one?

Today I have been placing, tracing and cutting out all of my pattern pieces. My many many pattern pieces! I’ve even omitted a few – I dont need pocket flaps getting in my way on my back pockets – but there was still a vast number of pieces. But they’re all done, and I’ve used almost a metre less fabric than the pattern stated, so I’ve got plenty left for another pair if I like these, or something else if I don’t!

I’ve started finishing the edges of the first few pieces using my overlocker this evening. I’m not going to have time to work on it for a few days now, but I’m pleased with progress so far. Next up will be the mindtangling process of assembling the pockets and getting everything to end up facing the right direction!

Pattern piecing

Today I assembled and started adjusting my pattern. The instructions for this pattern are very comprehensive and easy to follow. The taping took a little while to do, but was very straightforward.

The modifications took rather longer to get my brain around. The pattern contained instructions for modifying the pattern from a hip slash pocket to a jeans style pocket, which i thought would be more secure for keeping things in. I also used this tutorial for the Closet Case Ginger Jeans pattern to make a front pocket stay to give more structure and support across the front of the trousers. Modifications marked in red.

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Next up, i need to adjust the length and width of the lower leg to give more of a regular jeans fit. That’s a job for tomorrow, along with a trip to the local yarn and haberdashery shop for all of the notions I need – zip, buttons, and some funky cotton to make a secretly fun pocket lining!

Oh pants!

I need new trousers for work. I’m a theatre technician, so I need something practical, hard-wearing and with plenty of good size pockets. Oh, and preferably in black! I’ve been wearing an old pair of black skinny jeans in a thick denim up til now, but a.) they’re getting a bit snug and b.) I’ve got a lot more shifts than usual coming up (yay, panto season!) and so I need an extra pair to tide me over while those are in the wash.

At the Knitting and Stitching Show, I found some black denim on clearance and bought 4 metres. I also picked up a pattern for some men’s cargo trousers that was close to the style I had in mind.

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This week I sat down to start making them and spent an age trying to figure out what size to make as I gradually came to realise my mistake – a woman’s waist is a totally different shape than a man’s. I then spent ages comparing the pattern against a women’s trouser pattern (of a completely different style) and then against some of my existing jeans to work out if i could modify the waist, before concluding that I just needed an entirely different pattern.

So I have trawled and trawled every pattern site imaginable and yet still cannot find a pattern that matches what i want to make. I did find an amazing template of a pair of cargo/jeans that were exactly what I was after but it turned out to be a graphic design image template, not a sewing pattern. Gutted.

I toyed with the idea of using the Ginger Skinny Jeans pattern from Closet Case patterns, but in the end, after a bit more googling, I found these Bryce Cargo Pants by Hey June Handmade. The picture isnt great. They’re more fashion style-y than practical looking, (and i certainly won’t be rocking up to work in high-heeled open-toed sandals) but the waist looks about right for what i want, which is the most important bit in terms of a pattern. They’re definitely too short, and a bit too fitted around the lower leg for my liking, but i figure it’ll be easier to modify a leg than a waist!  It comes as a pdf pattern, so no hanging around waiting for the post, and i think I’ll feel a lot less precious about chopping and changing the pattern, since i know i can just print it again if needs be. Mind you it’s about 30 pages, so took an age to print, and i still need to assemble it, but thats a job for another day.

 

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I’m still very much a novice when it comes to sewing, so i have no idea how this is going to turn out, but I’ll do my best and keep you posted. It could be an interesting challenge.

Right, where’s my sellotape?

Winging it

I’m having a creative streak it seems. In the last few days, I’ve cast on two new knitting projects.

A couple of years ago, in my early days of knitting, I made a very basic stripey red and yellow garter scarf for Pumpkin. It’s terrible and tatty, but he still wore it last winter and probably will this year. Recently, Pickle has been asking for his own scarf to wear. He’s quite particular about what he wants – he certainly knows his own mind – and his ideas seem to be largely based on his brothers scarf. Yellow and blue stripes.

I trawled Ravelry with him for pictures, but nothing really matched his description, so the best thing to do, I figured, was just to wing it. He chose the colours he wanted out of my modest stash of Stylecraft Special DK and I got to work. I wanted something with a bit more structure to it than Pumpkin’s stretched and straggly thing, so I YouTubed double knitting and here we are.

It’s 25 stitches wide and I’m just going to see what happens as I go along. The double knitting is pretty easy once you get started and have figured out how best to hold the yarn.

I also spent some time trawling Ravelry for something new for myself. I had ideas of ripping out my very first cardigan, March Basic, which I’ve never really worn, and reknitting it into some sort of tunic. Whilst looking for tunic patterns, I came across something else which took my fancy.

Studying the photos and the various projects listed, I realised it used a leaf motif I already knew from a hat I’d previously made, and I could figure out the general construction. Since I wanted to modify the shape of the garment a fair bit away from the design I could see in the photos, I figured I wouldn’t buy the pattern but just figure it out for myself. I cant decide if that’s cheating or not? What are the ethics of not buying a pattern when you’ve been inspired by a photo of it, but want to change it? Answers on a postcard.

Anyway, I like a bit of knit-maths and can use a good brain workout every now and again, so I’m just going to go with the ‘wing it’ approach on this one too. There’s been a certain amount of ripping and tinking and fudging so far, but here’s what I’ve got.

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Do you always use a pattern or do you enjoy working things out for yourself?